Nurses at 13 Prisons Statewide Call in Sick in Apparent Protest of Stalled Contract Negotiations
Nurses on Tuesday called in sick at "inordinately high rates" at 13 prisons across California as part of an apparent protest over stalled negotiations on a new contract with the state, the Sacramento Bee reports. Negotiations on a new contract, which involves 900 nurses who work in California prisons and 2,800 other state nurses, have remained stalled since Aug. 11. The previous contract expired July 1.
According to state officials, the prison nurses' action is part of a sickout organized by the California State Employees Association, which represents them in the contract negotiations. Christina Rodriguez of CSEA said that although the union did not endorse the sickout, prison nurses "have had enough."
The prison nurses have sought a 26% pay increase, elimination of mandatory overtime, seniority rights and the elimination of management authority to change shift assignments and vacation schedules in the new contract, state negotiators said.
In an Aug. 13 letter to CSEA, David Gilb, labor relations chief for the state, wrote, "We would like to reach an agreement with you. But reaching such an agreement does not require us to abandon our interests as management, nor as stewards of the taxpayers' money."
The Department of Personnel Administration provided the prison nurses with a 5% pay increase to raise their average monthly pay to $4,782 after the previous contract expired, but CSEA officials have criticized the increase as inadequate.
"We've been bargaining with the state but nobody's listening to us," Rodriguez said, adding, "We want quality patient care, safe staffing and fair wages."
State prison officials said that they did not experience problems on Tuesday and used supervisors and contract registry nurses to fill some shifts (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 9/8).