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ASH employees to picket this morning for higher salaries

Health care staffers at Atascadero State Hospital are expected to picket this morning in hopes of higher salaries.

Registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and pharmacy technicians will gather outside the mental health facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of a union-sponsored push for pay equity with clinicians in the state prison system.

Officials for SEIU Local 1000 say they have tried to negotiate with the state Mental Health Department to include raises in the 2007-08 budget.

At issue is a plan for an immediate pay hike for workers at state mental hospitals, including ASH.

The proposal would set aside $9.4 million in unused department funds as a retention bonus for some clinical workers. But others, including nurses and pharmacy technicians, would not receive a raise.

Nurses at ASH and the state’s four other facilities for the criminally insane were granted an 18 percent pay raise in February 2006.

- Stephen Curran

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