Emergency medical workers in Austin-Travis County fought hard for a new contract, but a recent news report indicates that their new agreement lacks the one condition they really want – shorter weekly work hours. It is a case that highlights some of the difficulties of employment disputes, as workers are often forced to accept conditions imposed by their employers.
The workers have cited fatigue as a primary reason for their request, as the current 48-hour work week requires them to work two full-day shifts. The workers have been asking for a reduction to at most 42 hours, but the city of Austin has denied the request, according to the news report. The city claims that it must retain the current hourly structure to respond to anticipated changes in emergency demand.
This is a good example of what can happen in employment-related disputes, as employment benefits – like fair working hours – become more important than changes in salary. The workers here are positioned similarly to many workers throughout Texas, as they lack the leverage to truly obtain the kind of contract they feel is fair.
Employees have ways of fighting abusive contracts, especially when those deals are one-sided or illegal. For the employees here, it appears that they will continue to accept the difficult working conditions for at least the present time. Others in Texas should be aware of this case, understanding the difficulties that are often present when employees try to negotiate with employers who have an extreme advantage in the bargaining process.
Source: KHOU, “New EMS Contract does not address fatigue issue,” Erin Coker, Sept. 26