Dozens of Psychiatric Technicians Picket Metropolitan State Hospital Over Dangerous Overtime, Blatant Contract Violations

Exhausted employees call for ‘swift action’ to end forced 16-hour shifts at state forensic hospital for Californians with severe mental illnesses

NORWALK, Calif.--()--Exhausted by numerous forced overtime shifts, several dozen Metropolitan State Hospital Psychiatric Technicians still somehow found the strength to chant, march and picket today against the facility’s unsafe staffing and union-contract violations.

Joined by several Psychiatric Technicians from other state hospitals, developmental centers and prisons, the Metropolitan Psychiatric Technicians called for an end to forced 16-hour shifts at the forensic hospital, which provides services to Californians with severe mental illnesses.

Misguided February staffing-policy changes have resulted in massive overtime increases for the facility’s 391 CAPT members: Involuntary overtime numbers for January 2014 -- before a new overtime policy was implemented for this group of direct-care nursing professionals -- were 1,891 hours; for February 2014, 4,740 hours; and for March 2014, 3,769 hours.

When Psychiatric Technicians asked to meet with Metro management about safety and staffing concerns at the state forensic hospital -- plus the union’s 10 related grievances filed on numerous forced 16-hour shifts -- management defied union requests and state labor law by refusing to meet and then openly violated further contract rights. Continued pressure from union members as well as a letter to the hospital by area Assembly Member Ian Calderon resulted in a meeting yesterday with California Department of State Hospitals leadership. At the May 7 meeting, DSH and MSH leadership pledged to turn things around at Metro, but words and actions are two different things, say CAPT members.

"Meetings are all well and good, but what we at Metro need is swift action," said CAPT Metropolitan Chapter President Eric Soto, PT. "We’re out here to hold DSH and MSH to their word – out-of-control forced overtime must end for the safety of all staff and patients.”

CAPT’s board of directors – which includes Psychiatric Technicians from across California -- also voted May 2 to issue a formal “red-tag” sanction against Metropolitan State Hospital. The sanction warns interested parties from applying for jobs at the facility and blasts MSH for contract violations that will not be tolerated. Psych Techs at other state facilities who could not attend the rally wore red today in solidarity with their Metropolitan coworkers who provide therapeutic, rehabilitative and nursing services to Californians with severe mental illnesses.

The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians is the elected union representative for 7,000 state-employed Psychiatric Technicians and related workers who provide compassionate, professional mental health and developmental services for the Californians in our care. CAPT also is the professional organization for all of California’s 14,000 licensed Psychiatric Technicians.

Contacts

California Association of Psychiatric Technicians
Brady Oppenheim 916-952-9961 or Eric Soto, 714-329-7425

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Contacts

California Association of Psychiatric Technicians
Brady Oppenheim 916-952-9961 or Eric Soto, 714-329-7425