SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (CAPT) commends the recommendations made by the Little Hoover Commission to legislative leaders and Gov. Brown in its April 5 report, Time and Again: Overtime in State Facilities. In its report, the state oversight group urged California to reduce by 50 percent its use of overtime in state healthcare facilities by 2018.
According to the report, psychiatric technicians and nurses worked 3.75 million hours of overtime last year at a cost of $179 million. Overtime payments accounted for 18.2 percent of total pay, exceeding by four times the national average. Psychiatric Technicians working in the Department of State Hospitals worked 1.2 million hours of overtime at a cost of $54 million.
“This report underscores exactly what CAPT has been arguing with the State of California for several years. We need a common sense approach, such as recruitment and retention, improved working conditions and, most importantly, hiring more staff, to turn this problem around. This simple approach would show results immediately,” said CAPT State President Juan Nolasco.
Besides the economic disadvantages, excessive overtime also threatens public safety, employee recruitment and retention and quality of life. At the commission’s Aug. 27 public hearing, CAPT union representatives and psychiatric technicians Eric Soto and Lessie Moore shared real-life testimonials on the perils of mandatory overtime. Soto, who works at Metropolitan State Hospital—a facility red-tagged by CAPT for its excessive use of overtime mandates—testified that mandates make it nearly impossible to have any meaningful life outside the workplace. Moore, an employee at Patton State Hospital, also shared objections to management’s unrestrained use of mandates. Mandates, she explained, increase an employee’s susceptibility to receiving an adverse action, especially for looking less than alert, and critical errors related to fatigue not only jeopardize licenses and careers, but also threaten the safety of patients and staff alike.
CAPT has relentlessly fought the state’s use of overtime as a regular staffing tool, both legislatively and at the bargaining table. Sponsored by CAPT, SB 780 by Sen. Mendoza would improve the health and safety of patients and staff by prohibiting the state from mandating psychiatric technicians from working overtime except in certain emergency circumstances. Approved by the Senate, SB 780 is currently in the Assembly awaiting review by the Public Employment and Retirement Committee. CAPT is hopeful that the commission’s recent recommendations will move the state to finally act in the interest of public safety by providing the necessary funds to appropriately staff our state prisons, hospitals and developmental centers.
CAPT is the professional association for approximately 14,000 state-licensed psychiatric technicians who work in California programs serving people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. CAPT is also the elected union representative (BU 18) for psychiatric technicians and related professionals working in State of California facilities.