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State Hospital frontline workers in Pueblo frustrated with new schedule, some filing disputes

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) - Starting Saturday, some frontline workers at the Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo are going to have a new schedule and not all of them are happy about it.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, nearly 20 of their staff have filed an official grievance or a report that they're dissatisfied with the schedule changes. The union, Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions (WINS), said roughly 70 union members have filed partnership agreement disputes.

In total, 243 employees at the State Hospital were affected by the schedule change, including Registered Nurses, Mental Health Clinicians, Client Care Aides, and Health Care Technicians. 

The executive director of the union Colorado WINS, Hilary Glasgow, said they were not in agreement about the shift re-bid. Glasgow said this happens every so often at the State Hospital in Pueblo. She said it forces people who work at the hospital to bid for another shift so that they recreate schedules.

The staff who had the most seniority got to bid for their schedule first, according to the state.

Officials with the State Hospital said it was necessary amid an ongoing nursing shortage. They said it also allows them to start opening units and admitting more patients.

RELATED: Colorado offering $14,000 hiring bonuses to bring more nurses to psychiatric hospital in Pueblo

"It's really for the equity of our staff and patients for distribution of making sure that we have the right staff in the right place at the right time," said Jill Marshal, CEO of the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

Glasgow said the union is unhappy with how the State Hospital handled this transition. They claim the hospital told employees before they negotiated with the union. Glasgow said they received an email sometime earlier this year that the hospital was going to have to change schedules for the staff members. She claims the union was never given an explanation by the state as to why this needed to happen because Glasgow said the state did get presented with other options.

"The rebid is not ideal at all and they did get presented with other alternatives from their staff, including their own management staff," said Glasgow.

However, according to the state, hospital leadership notified and met with Colorado WINS in April and provided the background and the reasoning for the schedule changes. The state claims this meeting was in-person and they presented the plan to them after notifying staff. The state told KRDO it felt it was important to engage with staff first. CDHS officials said they feel strongly they have supported staff through this process and also through the State Partnership Agreement.

Marshall said employees who want to change their schedule can start that process in August.

Colorado WINS union members plan on wearing their union shirts on Saturday in solidarity with the frontline workers who are going through a tough time amid the schedule change

The state hospital recommends if an employee is not satisfied with their schedule they should reach out to Chief Nursing Officer to see what their options are.

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Barbara Fox

Barbara is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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