Vacaville and Chowchilla Prison Nurses Stage ‘Sickout’
About 50 registered nurses who work at three state prisons are staging a "sickout" this week in an effort to gain better pay, improved benefits and larger staffs, the Fresno Bee reports. Many of the nurses, who work at Valley State Prison for Woman and Central California Women's Facility, both in Chowchilla, and a Vacaville men's prison not named by the Bee, called in sick beginning Wednesday night. Some of the nurses planned to stay out of work today, the Bee reports. Officials at the Chowchilla prisons said they heard rumors of the impending sickout and "had contingency plans in place," according to Lt. Pat Callahan, a spokesperson for Valley State Prison. Doctors, nursing supervisors and nurses' aides have been covering for the absent nurses, as have outside nurses working on contract, and the sickout "has not impacted the medical care of our inmates," Callahan said. The nurses are represented by the California State Employees Association; however, the union did not "organiz[e] or suppor[t]" the sickout. CSEA President Perry Kenny said, "We have been actively contacting our nurses, telling them we cannot condone a sickout. We've encouraged them to go to work." The nurses' contract with the state prisons expired in July 2001. The union will begin three days of negotiations with the state Feb. 20. The Bee reports that prison officials expect the nurses to return to work Monday or Tuesday (Leedy, Fresno Bee, 2/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.