Mental health workers speak out against Zero Tolerance Policy
posted January 14, 2010

On Wednesday, January 14, 2010, UE 150 members from three DHHS institutions—Central Regional Hospital, Dorothea Dix Hospital, and Cherry hospital—testified before the NC Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. Wearing red in a show of unity, the workers bore witness to the horrible human damage caused by the so-called "Zero Tolerance" Policy, as well as the need for collective bargaining rights.

DHHS implemented a Zero Tolerance policy against patient abuse. Despite the name, the policy does nothing to address the root causes of problems in DHHS. Instead, it serves as window dressing for a broken system. The Zero Tolerance Policy has resulted in increased injuries and the termination of many seasoned workers for minor incidents which do not constitute abuse. In the 6 months after Zero Tolerance was implemented, worker injuries rose 16% in Central Regional Hospital and 43% in Cherry Hospital. In same 6 months, DHHS dismissals went up 30%. Within the psychiatric hospitals, the increase was 38%.

A News and Observer article detailed the action.