Pima Community College is hiring an independent investigator to probe union complaints about the leadership of its health programs, including claims the boss tried repeatedly to solicit prescription painkillers from subordinates.

Local 449 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees recently filed a statement of “no confidence” against Marty Mayhew, who’s in charge of nursing and other health-related training at the college’s west campus.

Mayhew, 60, a registered nurse, told the Arizona Daily Star she welcomes the union’s request for an investigation and said there’s “absolutely no truth” to the claim she tried to obtain drugs from underlings.

Local 449, which represents more than 140 PCC workers including police officers, student services workers and maintenance staffers, is the second employee group with which Mayhew has had recent run-ins.

The Arizona State Board of Nursing sanctioned PCC’s nursing program July 30, citing tensions between Mayhew and a group that represents the school’s full-time faculty.

In that case, the Nursing Board faulted faculty and Mayhew’s boss for interfering with her decision-making. Mayhew has final say over all aspects of nursing education as head of the nursing program, the board ruled.

The union complaint, dated Sept. 24, says Mayhew “consistently creates a hostile working environment” in the programs she oversees.

It accuses her of violating professional standards “on several occasions by asking specific employees for their leftover prescription painkillers,” but did not include any specifics of alleged incidents.

The union described a workplace rife with rumors, gossip, low morale and fear of retaliation against staffers who raise concerns about Mayhew’s behavior.

“Not only are her decisions affecting the staff in our department, but it is ultimately affecting the students,” said the complaint, which was leaked to the Star.

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert replied to the union in an Oct. 8 letter.

“The college is in the process of retaining an independent investigator to conduct a review” of the allegations staffers raised, the chancellor’s letter said.

Mayhew remains on the job in her $106,000–a-year position while the inquiry takes place.

She told the Star she’s proud of the programs she oversees and does not believe students are being negatively affected.

“I’ve been the dean for seven years, and we’ve achieved a lot of milestones,” she said. “I’ve had a great deal of success.”

Matthew Cline, executive director of Local 449, said he didn’t want to comment on the union complaint while the investigation is in progress.

In addition to the Nursing Board sanction, PCC also is on probation with its main accreditor, which detected serious failings in the school’s overall governance and administration.

Since June, five college administrators have quit, retired or were terminated from their six-figure positions. A sixth employee, who oversaw PCC’s troubled veterans center, also resigned.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.