Members Step Up and Collaborate with Management for Big Health and Safety Win

Article Published on August 12, 2022

A multi-year effort to ensure a safe workplace at San Quentin State Prison has yielded a sweeping legal decision that changes the health and safety landscape at CDCR facilities across the state. The win comes after joint efforts among Local 1000 member leaders, prison management, and members of the correctional officers’ union, CCPOA.

An order issued last month by CalOSHA requires the creation of a new director-level position at CDCR who will oversee a health and safety program for the prevention of communicable diseases in each California prison, among their health care providers (CCHCS), as well as within every CDCR office.

The order provides a direct approach to problem solving, ensuring that any hazards identified are corrected promptly, independent of proceedings before CalOSHA’s appeals board. This in turn provides another tool for SEIU Local 1000 members, stewards, and representatives to resolve safety issues in CDCR or CCHCS worksites.

Just months after the pandemic swept the nation, COVID cases at San Quentin exploded following a questionable transfer of several busloads of inmates—many already infected with the virus— from another correctional facility. The resultant spike in infections plunged an already-overtaxed prison staff into greater danger.

Battling pre-pandemic policies that didn’t sufficiently provide safe working conditions, Kevin Healy, President of DLC 752, organized a campaign to improve the working conditions of employees and inmates alike, seeking greater enforcement of COVID procedures, adequate COVID testing, and personal protection equipment (PPE).

Facing significant management and institutional challenges, Healy found key solution-minded allies in both prison and medical leadership.

Healy achieved important support from San Quentin Warden Ron Broomfield. “I have no doubt that the efforts of Warden Broomfield, working with Local 1000, truly saved the lives of inmates and staff alike,” Healy said.

Karen Franklin, a Unit 20 LVN and long-time member leader was at Healy’s side, along with Union members and fellow employees in every classification from across the prison, comprising seven of the ten bargaining units represented by Local 1000.

CalOSHA performed site inspections in August and September of 2020 and issued citations in February 2021, which included $440,000 in fines. CDCR disputed the citations, but a settlement reached in July 2022 included a reduced fine ($252K), but added the much-needed management oversight of health and safety in each CDCR facility.

“This is just one example of how members standing together and collaborating with management can achieve remarkable results for a safer workplace,” said Healy. “We are making new pathways to solve future issues.”

To learn more about this big representational win, read the entire CalOSHA order here.