Statewide Health and Safety Grievance at CDCR Elevated to 3rd Level


Our fight to ensure safe workplaces in our prisons continues after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) failed to acknowledge serious issues with their enforcement of health and safety guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

We called on those departments to enforce existing protocols around inmate movement, PPE, sanitation, physical distancing, and testing to prevent further spread of the virus, where outbreaks are out of control.

They claimed their practices were sound, and in essence, denied our assertions.

Following the expedited timelines allowed for health and safety grievances, we elevated our grievance to the third level, this time with CalHR, for possible resolution.

Our grievance requested the following remedies:

  • Take all necessary steps to ensure employee health and safety
  • Ensure that each institution has a COVID-19 incident command center with both medical and custody staff
  • Have a clear written plan for spaces/areas that will be utilized to isolate/quarantine suspected and COVID-19 confirmed inmates at each institution
  • Ensure that management at all levels understands their responsibilities and role in preventing the further spread of COVID-19
  • Halt the movement of inmates between prisons and intakes from counties
  • Ensure that DAI and CCHCS are doing everything possible to maintain six feet of physical distance between persons (including allowing all employees possible to telework), providing adequate hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and are enforcing that everyone wear masks/or face coverings
  • Ensure that all employees are trained with the latest State of California health and safety guidelines and that all employees are noticed about possible COVID-19 exposure at their worksite
  • Any other appropriate remedy deemed just and proper

CalHR must now respond to the elevated grievance within fourteen (14) days.

We had a grievance conference with CalHR on August 25. We were able to flush out more specific examples about how the health and safety guidelines are not being consistently followed throughout CDCR.

Unit 20 Bargaining Chair Luisa Leuma and Unit 17 Chair Kim Cowart represented our members on the call and cited more examples of the problems we face and shared some ideas in how to address our concerns. 

The departments believe they are doing everything they can, but we are not alone in our grievance issues as the Inspector General recently came to similar conclusions about some of their COVID-19 responses.

Please continue reporting health and safety violations to your supervisors so that they can be promptly addressed. If you need additional assistance, please contact your union steward or our Member Resource Center (MRC) at 866.471.SEIU (7348).