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Progress Made on Pension Overcharge Issue in BU 16

February 8, 2016

Last year Union members alerted UAPD that the State has been deducting too much for the employee pension contribution for some State of California BU 16 doctors (who joined CalPERS after January 1, 2013 and are thus subject to a cap on pensionable salary).  You can read the original email to get a full description of the problem.

To resolve the problem, UAPD staffers and a Bargaining Unit 16 physician met with Richard Gillihan, Director of CalHR, who also sits on the CalPERS Board.  UAPD also discussed the problem with the State Controller’s Office, whose office programs payroll deductions and issues state employees’ pay.

As a result of UAPD’s efforts, significant progress has been made on fixing this serious problem.  Since November, hundreds of bargaining unit doctors have received refunds for their over-payments, totaling more than 5 million dollars.  The SCO has agreed to create an automated process to stop salary deductions above the PEPRA cap in the future.  Their plan is to begin work on the project in July 2016 and complete it by July 2017.  The SCO will continue issuing refund checks while the automated system is being built.

However, there are still additional issues that the union is addressing.  The union requires a more transparent accounting of how the refund checks were calculated for each affected member, and needs external verification that all affected members have received refunds.  The union filed a class action grievance over these issues today. We also believe that the State has a responsibility to create the automated system on the tightest possible deadline, which should be shorter than one year.

UAPD Reaches TA with Alameda County

February 8, 2016

After a long period of negotation, UAPD has finally reached an agreement with Alameda County.  Click here to see a summary of the agreement.  The UAPD Team is asking members to vote YES to ratify this agreement on or before the deadline of February 12, 2016.   Ballots have been sent to UAPD members.

Friedrichs Case Threatens Unions

January 19, 2016

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Friedrichs case, one of the biggest cases in its history.

Those who brought Friedrichs seek to do away with fair share fees in public sector unions, allowing non-members to benefit from contract improvements and union representation without sharing in any their costs.  As a union member, you should be outraged that you’ll be expected to carry the entire cost of “free riders” in your unit.  This video by AFSCME does a good job of explaining the inherent unfairness of the Friedrich’s position on fair share fees.  While the case is being argued as a free speech issue, in reality this is just a creative effort to weaken unions and roll back the gains we have made.

While the content of oral arguments does not always predict the final decision, most Court experts agreed that the majority of the justices seem ready to eliminate fair share fees.  That decision could have devastating effects on all American workers — those who belong to unions and those who have benefited from the higher standards that unions helped create.

But the fight is not over.  We can and must prepare ourselves for a bad decision in the Friedrichs case.  Things that we now take for granted — regular pay increases, quality health care coverage, secure pensions– would all be up for grabs in the absence of a strong union.  Our best defense is organizing — making sure that an overwhelming majority of people in all of our units are union members.  UAPD staff have been getting non-members to sign membership applications since word of Friedrichs reached us last year, but the staff cannot do this alone.  If you are willing to talk to non-members in your unit, contact your labor representative and let him or her know.

The Court’s final decision is expected this summer.  What we do between now and then means a great deal.

Further Reading:

New York Times—Strong Unions, Strong Democracy (Opinion)

Sacramento Bee—In Friedrichs case, justices should follow precedent, side with labor (Editorial)

The Atlantic: Will the U.S. Supreme Court Gut Public-Employee Unions?

The New Republic: The Supreme Court Case That Could Gut Public Sector Unions

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2015 State of Our Union — Evolution by Natural Selection

December 21, 2015

By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., UAPD President

Over 150 years ago the naturalist Charles Darwin published his now famous treatise, “On the Origin of Species.” At that time and going forward, it caused quite a stir amongst Creationists. Darwin described a process by which organisms evolve over time as a result of alterations in physical and behavioral traits. He reasoned that the changes that allow an organism to better adapt to its environment will help it survive and produce sturdier offspring. Complex creatures evolve from simpler ancestors over time. Natural selection is the preservation of beneficial mutations, changes and functional advantages that enable a species to better compete in the world. Why am I bringing up this topic of natural selection? Because like any complex and successful species that evolve from a single cell, our own Union of 4,300 doctors and healthcare professionals started with an idea from a single doctor, surgeon Sanford Marcus, and a few of his colleagues.

By definition a labor union is a group of two or more individuals, committed to bargain collectively. Within a few weeks of its birth the UAPD grew to a small union of 200 private physicians in the SF Bay Area. A few years later they integrated County doctors into our Union, then our large State units in the 1980s. Acknowledging the Darwinian principle that variation favors survival, UAPD has welcomed dentists, nurse practitioners, PAs, podiatrists and veterinarians into our group. In 1997 we began a symbiotic affiliation with our Big Brother, AFSCME International. That was another functional advantage. And just this year, utilizing our new Constitutional authority our Board approved the addition of 300 Los Angeles County pharmacists. UAPD has indeed become a MELTING POT. In today’s healthcare jungle, where half the physicians and most of the other health care professionals are employees, it is imperative to strengthen our union by both numbers and diversification. Before I discuss how to continue to survive and thrive, let’s look closer at the hostile landscape that we live in.

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Exec Director Al Groh to Retire

December 14, 2015

As was first announced during October’s Triennial Convention, UAPD Executive Director Al Groh is retiring at the end of this year. Al Groh began his career in the labor movement as the Vice President of the Pacific Coast International Organization of Masters Mates and Pilots, then continued on as a representative for the California Association of Interns & Residents. He began working for UAPD as a labor representative in 1995, and became the union’s second Executive Director of UAPD in 2006. Throughout his years at UAPD, Al demonstrated himself to be a responsible, patient, effective and loyal colleague and supervisor. He presided over a long period of growth and prosperity for the union, and will be missed.

To fill the role of Executive Director, UAPD President Dr. Stuart Bussey has appointed long-time UAPD staff member Zegory Williams.  Zegory is currently the Regional Administrator in Sacramento and charged with running that office. He is known to many as the Chief Negotiator of the State Bargaining Unit 16 contract. He has worked for UAPD for 13+ years, starting off as a labor representative, and has spent 37 years working in the labor movement.

Zeg will officially take over the Executive Director job on January 1st, after Al Groh retires.  Until then he has been working with Al to get trained on his new responsibilities. The UAPD Board will be asked to approve Zegory’s new role during their January 22nd Board Meeting. Zegory is looking forward to spending more time in Oakland and in Southern California, where he will be working with staffers and members to improve services, increase organizing, and build union strength.

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