CONTACT: Brady Oppenheim, CAPT Consultant
State Psychiatric Technicians Say Governor’s Holiday Cuts Are Illegal
CAPT files suit on cuts ‘hitting home’ for state’s 24-hour facility staff
State-employed Psychiatric Technicians filed a lawsuit today against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, claiming his elimination of holidays and holiday pay not only specifically hurts those working in California’s round-the-clock facilities, but also breaks a major labor law.
The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians’ lawsuit argues Governor Schwarzenegger broke the so-called “Evergreen Law” when he eliminated two state holidays – Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day – as well as time-and-a-half pay for other holidays as part of a state budget bill earlier this year. According to the Evergreen Law (California Government Code Section 3517.8), expired state-employee union contracts remain in effect until either a new contract is agreed upon or the union and state reach impasse. As neither an impasse has been reached nor has a new contract been agreed upon, CAPT states the governor violated the Evergreen Law as well as its 2006-2008 contract, which includes the two holidays as well as time-and-a-half pay for holiday work.
Licensed Psychiatric Technicians and allied staff provide therapeutic and nursing care to Californians with severe mental illnesses and developmental disabilities residing in state hospitals, developmental centers and prisons. On any holiday, approximately seven-eighths of Psych Tech staff are at work caring for individuals and ensuring legal staffing ratios are met.
As Psychiatric Technicians are tasked with providing vital level-of-care services at state facilities that never close, union members feel they are being unfairly targeted by the governor’s holiday actions.
“Cutting holidays and holiday pay isn’t a theoretical debate to us – it hits home,” said Tony Myers, CAPT state president and a Lanterman Developmental Center Senior Psychiatric Technician. “We’re away from our families and with the clients who rely on us, no matter what day it is.”
The union also is championing another lawsuit on the issue of furloughs in 24/7 state facilities. In that lawsuit, CAPT argues Psych Techs are not being allowed to take unpaid furlough days off because of staffing ratios, violating federal and state labor laws requiring “a day’s pay for a day’s work,” among other issues. Like other state employees, state Psychiatric Technicians’ pay has been reduced by about 14 percent; however, unlike their peers who participate in the “Furlough Friday” closures of state offices throughout California, Psych Techs’ facilities do not close and employees instead are required to bank their furlough time off, with requests for furlough days off frequently denied due to staffing requirements.
In addition to these legal actions fighting the governor’s cuts, CAPT is holding rallies at a different 24-hour facility each Wednesday and is asking members of the public to support Psychiatric Technicians’ important services by signing the online petition at www.psychtechs.net.
COPIES OF BOTH CAPT LAWSUITS ARE AVAILABLE AT WWW.PSYCHTECHS.NET
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.