Union Protestors Picket V.A. Mandate - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

TEMPLE

Union Protestors Picket V.A. Mandate

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TEMPLE -

Union activists with the American Federation of Government Employees came out in protest of a new government mandate that would require health care workers to split shifts thanks to an increase in service hours.

Protestors picketed outside the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center in Temple today where they said that this new V.A. directive will only add more stress onto workers, and that overall this new initiative will ultimately diminish the health care service veterans receive.

The new mandate is a nationwide initiative, but some members of the A.F.G.E. say that adding more hours onto shifts for health care workers will only lead to a drop in quality service for veteran patients.

"This will cause the veteran an additional 4 - 6 month delay in getting services that they are entitled to," A.F.G.E. chapter 2109 vice-president Virgie Hardeman said.

Members of the group also say that the initiative will not only lead to a decline in quality service for veterans, but will also place much more stress on government health care employees.

"We're short staffed, and we have been short staffed for over 2 years and the situation is not getting any better," Hardeman said.

While the V.A. argues that extending the service hours will only better serve veteran patients, members of the A.F.G.E say that they have a solution to fix the problem.

"We want to have 10 hours shifts where no one will have to split their days and come in on Saturdays for 4 hours or come in on Wednesdays for 4 hours," A.F.G.E. chapter 2109 president Clementine Ray said. "We don't want any split days because it places too much of a hardship on our employees."

The Central Texas Health Care System provided a statement in regards to the protest saying that it's their commitment to provide only the best quality care for veterans, and that the mandate will ultimately provide more access to care for those veterans.

They also explained that from 2012 to 2013 they were actually able to add 61 employees to their staff with the majority working in direct patient care.

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