Members fight for rights
Local 1000 challenges state over restructuring plans
Local 1000 is demanding that the state slow down the restructuring of the medical side of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to ensure that worker safety remains a top priority and the members' seniority rights and transfer rights are upheld.
"Our members are committed to working with the Department of Mental Health during this transition to make this process fair and trans- parent. However, the department is failing to live up to the agreement we made in December," said Kim Cowart, chair of Bargaining Unit 17 and a registered nurse in DMH. "We will do everything necessary to protect our members' rights."
Local 1000 attorneys filed an unfair labor practice charge against DMH with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that accuses the state of "misleading" members and violating last month's agreement with DMH only days after it was signed.
Gov. Jerry Brown last year began implementing plans to restructure most of the Department of Mental Health into a new Department of State Hospitals with the goal of making state services more efficient while improving patient care and worker safety.
In late December, DMH officials reached an agreement with Local 1000 to protect member rights dur- ing the transition process involving hundreds of state employees, including many nurses at DMH facilities throughout California.
DMH agreed to post seniority scores of all impacted members at DMH facilities by Dec. 30 and then allow those members - with the help of a union representative or steward - time to first challenge inaccurate scores before selecting posting options.
The process deteriorated when DMH did not correctly account for staff members who were "temporarily" relocated to vacant positions in other areas. In addition, officials at Atascadero State Hos-pital rushed through the process without allowing a union representative to be on site in order to advise members as had been agreed.
"DMH reneged on its promise to allow Local 1000 the opportunity to have a representative present, which also denied Local 1000 the opportunity to ensure that the DMH selection was fair and accurate," Local 1000 attorneys wrote in the union's PERB charge.