Hawkins also pointed to a co-worker who had his arm bitten by a patient.
"The training we receive is completely inadequate, which results in injuries. Many times, there is only one person there when something goes crazy," Hawkins said.
Crisis Prevention Intervention training, a nonviolent physical way of controlling violent patients, is completely inadequate at Sharpe, he said.
"Most of us love our jobs. Some people don't have the opportunity to get any other job."
Hawkins also said Sharpe Hospital is very overcrowded. "The overflow rooms have no windows. And there are no bathrooms or showers in those rooms."
While many state and federal agencies do not negotiate contracts directly with unions, union membership is rising fastest in the public sector.
Union membership, in general, has been dropping throughout the U.S.
In 2012, the national union membership rate was 11.3 percent, dropping from 11.8 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In West Virginia, the percentage of overall union membership dropped from 13.8 percent in 2011 to 12.2 percent in 2012.
In 1983, when the BLS first began compiling these statistics, 20.1 percent of all workers nationally were union members.
But in 2012, 35.9 percent of all public-sector workers belonged to unions -- a rate more than five times higher than private-sector workers. Only 6.6 percent of the country's private-sector workers belonged to unions last year.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5614.