Union files unfair labor practice complaint against County of San Diego

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jul 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 01:16:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The local Service Employees International Union filed a complaint with the public employment relation's board against the County of San Diego alleging it made a unilateral change to the sick-leave policy and procedure.

The move comes after an email was sent to detention center medical staff employees saying they'd need to produce a written and signed doctors certification each time their absent due to personal or family related illness or injury.

According to the internal email dated June 30, 2017 "no additional leave of absence will be authorized in the Medical Services Unit through July 9, 2017."

The union says for the County to implement changes to sick-leave policies it is required to bargain with the workers and their union beforehand. It's something they say didn't happen in this case.

"You have to have the heart and the guts to work in the detention because it's not for everyone," said nurse Claudette Magno.

Magno says she works as a nurse at the detention center and enjoys the job, but claims there aren't enough people on the medical staff to properly treat patients.

"Sometimes some of them don't get seen, they get pushed back," Magno said.

Instead of the same day service you and I would expect when we're sick, Magno says inmates could have to wait a few days before getting help.

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked her if patients healthcare is suffering because of a staffing shortage, "It does," she said. It does suffer."

Magno also claims the staffing levels are so bad some of her co-workers are afraid to call out when they are sick.

"You feel bad too, if you call in sick you know your colleagues are going to be suffering because you've been in that situation," she said.

According to the head of the local union, the staffing problem stretches across the county.

"All these different locations," said SEIU local 221 president David Garcias. "All the different facilities where these nurses are under a lot of pressure to continue to serve the patients but with very minimal staffing."

The Sheriff's Department says that's not the case.

In a statement to 10News a spokesperson wrote, "The claims being made regarding staffing levels are not true. The San Diego Sheriff's Department is committed to the safety and well-being of our inmates and staff. As for the unfair labor practice claim made, the County is involved in ongoing contract negotiations and we won't negotiate in the press." 

California has laws about paid sick leave.  Click HEREfor answers to frequently asked questions.