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Meet President Saunders at Tang Center

April 13, 2016

AFSCME President Lee Saunders traveled around the Bay Area talking to union members about their jobs. President Saunders met with University of California Student Health Doctors, UAPD President Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., and UAPD staff at the International House on the UC Berkeley Campus. This was a great opportunity to bring doctor issues directly to the President of a 1.4 million member union.  UAPD is a proud affiliate of AFSCME, which provided a great deal of support during UC doctors strike.

SUPREME RELIEF…For Now

April 6, 2016

The irony of it all… After a year of union hand wringing, soul searching and bracing for a body blow, the Supreme Court unexpectedly and abruptly handed us a reprieve. A month after Judge Scalia’s death and by virtue of a tie vote, the Supremes upheld the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision  to reject  Friedrichs v. CTA. Public unions in 25 states , including California, breathed a collective sigh of relief.  At least for now, we can continue collecting agency or “fair share” fees from nonmembers.

Make no mistake though…this relief may be only temporary.  Last month  President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat, but leading Republicans have stated their intention to withhold consent on any nominee until the next president takes office. Depending on the outcome of the November election, the Court will swing pro- or anti- union. Democratic President Clinton or Sanders would undoubtedly nominate a more liberal judge, a Republican President definitely not. The Center for Individual Rights (CIR), who represents Rebecca Friedrichs, has already filed a petition for rehearing her case. They reason that a tie vote does not settle a legal question, but only reserves it for a future case. If not the Friedrichs case, then another clone will come before the Court in the next few years.

We seem to be heading for a tipping point in history as far as union health and survival. Will the erosion of unions accelerate with a more conservative Court, or will State Legislatures and Congress create laws that ensure healthy employee environments and a resurgent middle class? California’s new $15 minimum wage act is a good start. Let’s hope that the ball keeps rolling in that direction.

Good News for Doctors Paychecks

March 29, 2016

On July 1, San Francisco Dentists, Assistant Medical Examiners and Veterinarians received a 3.25% salary increase based on the Consumer Price Index for the Bay Area.  Two more take-home pay changes affected all doctors in the unit.  These changes are pursuant to cost-sharing measures found in San Francisco Proposition C, which was passed by the voters in November 2011.

First, Prop C created a new employee pension contribution percentage that floats above the baseline according to the City’s required contribution (the latter being determined by law in order to keep the pension adequately funded). Based on SFERS’s actuarial projections, the City’s required contribution in fiscal year 2016-2017 will decrease, resulting in a 1% decrease in the required employee contribution for the upcoming fiscal year.

Prop C also set contribution requirements for the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund, which was created to ensure adequate funding for current and future SF retirees’ healthcare premiums. Employees who were hired on or after January 10, 2009 have been contributing 2% of salary to the Fund, while the City has been contributing 1%. Starting July 1, employees hired on or before January 9, 2009 will begin contributing 0.25% of salary to the Fund. Those employees’ contributions will increase by 0.25% in each of the following three fiscal years, until reaching the maximum of 1% effective July 1, 2019. The City’s contribution rates will mirror those of employees hired on or before January 9, 2009.

Employees having questions related to their pensions are encouraged to contact SFERS directly. Those having questions related to current or retiree health provisions should contact the San Francisco Health Service System.

Update on the Friedrichs Case

March 4, 2016

Courtesy of AFSCME Works

When the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association earlier this year, hundreds of workers assembled outside the court to demand an end to the attacks against working families.  That’s because Friedrichs is an attack on public service workers from wealthy special interests, and a majority ruling against workers could have the effect of silencing our voice on the job.

A decision in the case was expected before the end of June. But with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, it’s possible the Court may choose to rehear the case once a new justice is appointed.

If the Court makes a ruling this spring, it’s possible the final vote will be 4-4, in which case there won’t be a majority decision. That means this attack on public workers, will have failed. But only for the time being.

It’s important to remember that the wealthy special interests who are out to destroy workers’ unions will continue their attacks. They will continue to use the courts to try to take away our rights. And they will continue to press their attacks at the state and local levels, as they did in West Virginia, now the 26th state to go right-to-work.

All of this means one thing: Our union will never quit the efforts we began two years ago to become stronger than ever. We will continue to increase our membership to protect our jobs, defend our rights, and maintain the quality of the services we provide our communities.

Read more about: Featured

Preventing Gun Deaths Through Data and Research

March 4, 2016

UAPD has sponsored a new bill to address the public health crisis posed by gun violence.  With UAPD’s support, Senator Richard Pan, M.D., has introduced SB 877, a bill requiring the state to establish and maintain a data-tracking system on violent deaths in the state, including gun deaths.

According to a press release from Senator Pan:

SB 877 is sponsored by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and would require the Department of Public Health to establish and maintain a system for collecting data on violent deaths in the state and allow the Department to apply for grant funding for the program.  Specifically, CDPH would contract with counties to collect data on violent deaths from various sources, including death certificates, law enforcement agencies, and coroners. Such data would be used to assess the magnitude of the problem, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths and would be used to assist policy makers and communities as they determine appropriate prevention and education efforts.

Researchers point to the difference in how guns and vehicle fatalities are tracked to demonstrate how we can better prevent gun deaths through data and research.  Guns are now killing just as many Americans as cars, yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started a national database in 1975 called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which holds detailed datasets for every car death in the nation. By contrast, a unified and complete database for gun deaths is virtually non-existent.  The NVDRS is voluntary and receives no data or incomplete data from many states including California.

Read more about: Featured, Legislative Advocacy
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