November 27, 2013
On November 12, 2013 San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and four other California mayors filed initial paperwork for a dangerous initiative called the “The Pension Reform Act of 2014.” If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and if it is passed by California voters, it would amend the state constitution to do away with the “vested rights doctrine” that currently protects the pensions of millions of public sector workers, including UAPD members. If passed, the new initiative would give public employers the ability to change the pension formulas for current employees, not just future hires. Though they would still owe current employees a retirement benefit based on what they’ve earned to date, moving forward public employers would be able to “modify, freeze, or terminate” those benefits. In other words, the initiative is the most serious attack on pensions to date. Reed and his supporters are trying to collect 800,000 signatures by June to place the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
UAPD is part of a coalition that is gearing up to fight Reed’s pension-killing initiative. We are already raising funds and preparing a strategy to get the word out to California voters. But it’s not too early to start talking to your friends and family about why they should oppose this initiative, first by refusing to sign the petition, and, if it comes to the ballot, by voting no on the measure.
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November 21, 2013
Today the University of California (UC) formally recognized the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) as the exclusive bargaining representative of doctors working in the student health centers on all ten UC campuses. This marks the successful completion of an organizing campaign that began in December 2012, when a handful of doctors on a few campuses started talking to UAPD and their colleagues about the merits of forming a union. Less than a year later, they are officially union doctors and part of the UAPD family.
The process of gathering union authorization cards from a majority of student health center doctors actually finished back in April. For the seven months, UC attorneys did everything in their power to postpone recognition of this new union, but in the end reason and justice prevailed. Now that student health center doctors are represented by a union, negotiations for their first contract can begin. UAPD will immediately begin scheduling bargaining dates with UC.
This is UAPD’s second organizing victory this fall. In Southern California, providers at the To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Health and Wellness Center also voted in favor of forming a union with UAPD. In addition to representing public sector doctors, UAPD has begun organizing non-profit health clinics in recent years.
November 20, 2013
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has appointed Dr. Milton Lorig, a UAPD Board Member and longtime employee of the Alameda Health System, to the Measure A Oversight Committee. Adopted by Alameda County voters in 2004, Measure A authorized the County of Alameda to raise its sales tax by one-half cent in order to fund additional medical services for low income, uninsured, and indigent County residents. As part of the Oversight Committee, Dr. Lorig will help monitor use of Measure A funds, which are approximately $100 million annually. Congratulations Dr. Lorig!
November 20, 2013
Providers at the To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Health and Wellness Center in Los Angeles voted unanimously to unionize with UAPD in October. Soon T.H.E. providers will begin discussing their bargaining priorities and entering into negotiations for a first contract with their employer. They hope to find the same success at the bargaining table that providers at Northeast Valley Health Corporation did; the new NEVHC contract included improvements ranging from binding arbitration for grievances to a 19.25% raise for all providers. In addition to representing public sector doctors, UAPD has begun representing providers at non-profit clinics around California, many of which are changing drastically with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Providers interested in learning more about the benefits of unionization can contact UAPD here.
November 20, 2013
By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., UAPD President
As the showdown for the latest cycle of tort reform heads for the California legislature and the ballot box in 2014, it’s time to review the arguments of both sides. More importantly, it’s time to offer some possible solutions to the problem. Trial attorneys want to protect patients against “negligent” physicians, while we physicians counter that we are trying to protect patients from indirectly bearing the costs of malpractice premiums.
California’s 1975 MICRA law, spearheaded by UAPD and the CMA, set a cap of $250,000 for a patient’s “noneconomic” damages (pain and suffering). That’s good for keeping doctor’s malpractice premiums at a reasonable level. There is no ceiling for economic losses of the patient. That’s good for the patient who has legitimately had his livelihood impaired by provider negligence. MICRA has kept malpractice premiums in check for years, but now trial attorneys are asking to raise the cap on noneconomic damages to $1.2 million or more. We strongly support maintaining the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
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