Local 1000 Nurses back bill to limit OT
Nurses organize statewide support for AB 2155


Local 1000-sponsored legislation to ban the unsafe practice of mandatory overtime, for nurses and nursing assistants, has passed the state Assembly and is now before the state Senate.

The Assembly vote on AB 2155 came after a determined campaign spearheaded by Local 1000 nurses who work in prisons and mental hospitals. Frustrated by frequent double shifts and callbacks without proper rest, the nurses organized in support of the bill and took their message to the Assembly.

“Mandatory overtime threatens the quality of patient care, and the safety of our members and the general public,” said Rionna Jones, Bargaining Unit 20 chair. “We’re asking for reasonable working conditions–nothing more.”
Mandatory overtime for nurses in the private sector was banned in 2001 by the Industrial Welfare Commission–but didn’t include public sector workers. AB 2155 (Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles) would extend the protection to the public sector. Already, 11 other states have adopted legislation similar to AB 2155.

Grassroots organizing made a difference Nurses and nursing assistants working in prisons and mental health facilities up and down the state rallied around AB 2155–having conversations and collecting nearly 300 cards and letters in support of the bill’s passage. Those cards and letters include personal stories of being required to work a double shift with no notice or finding themselves exhausted because they have worked multiple mandated double shifts with insufficient time off in between.

Bob Mutebi, a licensed vocational nurse at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, collected 75 messages for legislators in just over 24 hours.  ”I don’t feel that prison administrators are ever going to solve this problem unless there is legislative intervention,” said Mutebi. “Mandated overtime should be the last resort but we have seen–throughout
the state–that it’s the status quo.”

“I have signed out from my eight-hour shift and been ordered to sign back in again without warning to start a new shift,” Mutebi said. “Everyone I work with has stories about being too tired to drive home, about falling asleep in the parking lot after working 16 hours or pulling over on the side of the road because you can’t keep your eyes open.”

AB 2155 is currently awaiting action before the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee.  If you wish to share your story of mandatory overtime, send an email to 2155yes@seiu1000.org