State Mental Health Workers Plan Protests for Pay Increases
Members of the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians said they would begin protests Monday outside 12 state mental hospitals and developmental centers, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gold/Romney, Los Angeles Times, 4/5).
Workers are seeking pay increases after U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in late 2006 ordered steep pay increases for prison psychiatrists as part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit involving prison mental health care.
After the prison pay increases took effect, Department of Mental Health psychiatrists were paid at least $100,000 less than prison psychiatrists. The pay differential led many mental health care providers to seek employment in state prisons, a trend that pushed staff vacancy rates at state mental hospitals to about 43%.
Karlton recently ordered the state to raise pay for DMH workers or present an alternative proposal in court by April 6.
DMH is subject to terms of the class-action lawsuit because some state mental hospitals provide services for state prison inmates (California Healthline, 3/22).
The protests will coincide with a DMH budget hearing and are expected to last until the end of the month.
Keith Uriarte, organizing director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said health care professionals represented by the union also have scheduled protests for later this month.
Together the organizations represent more than 8,500 DMH health care workers, including psychologists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and dietitians (Los Angeles Times, 4/5).