Vacaville, Chowchilla Prison Nurses End ‘Sickouts,’ Union Resumes Contract Negotiations
Negotiations resumed yesterday between state officials and union leaders representing California's prison nurses after a "tumultuous" week that included nurse "sickouts" at three state prisons, the Fresno Bee reports. Representatives from the California State Employees Association have asked state officials to approve a contract that would improve nurse-to-patient ratios in prisons and offer prison nurses improved retirement benefits and salary increases, the Bee reports. The contract between the state and the nurses expired in July 2001. On Feb. 13, about 40 nurses held a sickout at two Chowchilla prisons -- the Chowchilla Valley State Prison for Women and the Central California Women's Facility. Officials at the facilities said that the sickouts "cost the prisons little money and didn't diminish the medical care" for inmates. Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections, said that nurses also staged a sickout at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. The three sickouts ended last Saturday. Local officials said that the relationship between the nurses and prison administrators "hasn't changed because of the sickouts." Greg Schoonard, a spokesperson for the Central California Women's Facility, said, "We understand that issues like this are really handled at the state level, and I think the nurses understand that" (Leedy, Fresno Bee, 2/20).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.