RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - The union representing Covered California call center employees claims pressure to get the system running is creating a stressful work environment.
Among the complaints is forced overtime, six-day workweeks, and a blanket order denying call center staff a half day off on Christmas Eve, which is available to most other state employees.
"I've got hundreds and hundreds of emails from staff complaining about various things going on," said SEIU chief steward Cindy Doyel.
Doyel blames managers and supervisors who've come to the new state agency from the private sector and are unfamiliar with government labor contracts.
She said the union has logged roughly 50 work rule violations at the Rancho Cordova call center.
"Unfortunately, it's not making a very happy environment in there," Doyel said.
Covered California spokesman Dana Howard confirmed that call center employees are being required to work overtime, but only if there are not enough volunteers.
"This is our peak period," Howard said. "We have calls coming in by the thousands, exceeding our projections-- which is good news."
Howard said most of the staff at the call centers in Rancho Cordova and Fresno are "permanent intermittent" employees, allowing managers to add or reduce working hours as the job demands.
"Folks who are working here at Covered California are going to have to put in a little bit more effort and they're going to be paid for it," he said.
Howard said call volume would likely drop off early next year, then the cycle would repeat with open enrollment at the end of 2014.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net