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State Negotiations: Chess or Chicken?

November 30, 2016

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

First things first. I hope that you enjoyed a well-deserved Thanksgiving holiday.

The game of chess requires clarity of mind, the ability to think ahead and effectively guess what moves your opponent will make. The same cannot be said for the game of chicken. Less reason, more nerve and resolve. Which player will blink and give in first? With over half of the twenty-one State bargaining unit negotiations stalemated, both of these games are being played by the State and by its employees right now.

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Rights During an SEIU 1000 Strike

November 29, 2016

UAPD State-employed doctors have asked whether they have the right to strike alongside SEIU workers this coming Monday (aka sympathy strike).  The short answer is no, UAPD-represented doctors do not have the right to engage in a sympathy strike with another union at this time. 

UAPD-doctors who want to support their SEIU colleagues can join them on the picket lines on their own time (e.g. before or after work, or during vacation, CTO, annual leave).  You can read more about the SEIU strike plans here.
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San Mateo Reopener Results in Wage Increase

November 17, 2016

As previously reported, UAPD successfully negotiated a salary reopener one year into the current contract. The results of that survey found that San Mateo County Psychiatrists had fallen below the market average for the Bay Area. As a result, your salaries have been adjusted retroactively to July 3, 2016 (the first full pay period of the current fiscal year). You will see both your increase in salary and retroactive pay on the pay check issued December 9, 2016 for the following specialties:  

  • Adult Psychiatrist and Supervising Adult Psychiatrist – 9.1%
  • Child Psychiatrist and Supervising Child Psychiatrist- 9.9%

State Has Done Little To Fix Doc Shortage at Prisons

November 3, 2016

Press Release (Oakland) — On Tuesday the State’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report that gave Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) a failing grade for the medical care it provides to inmates at the Soledad facility.  Fifteen years after a lawsuit in which a federal judge ruled that the health care given in California prisons constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” the Inspector General found that SVSP still demonstrates “a profound inability to provide patients with adequate access to care.”

Much of the problem comes from an on-going shortage of physicians in California prisons.  According to the Inspector General’s report: “Of critical importance was SVSP’s shortage of providers and extreme difficulty with recruitment and retention of qualified physicians. This inadequate staffing at SVSP led to an institutional backlog of over 400 patients at the time of the onsite inspection, and contributed to the inadequate rating.”

Currently, there are four physicians working onsite at Salinas Valley State Prison, treating over 3800 prisoners.  The physician shortage is a pervasive problem affecting most of the 34 state adult prisons in California.

On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) spokesperson Joyce Hayhoe “agreed that the prison has a serious, ongoing doctor shortage and said officials are trying to hire doctors.”  However, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), which is now negotiating with the State on behalf of prison doctors, believes not enough is being done.  UAPD asserts that recruitment and retention is still a serious problem that is affecting patient care.

“The State can’t hire more doctors  because doctors can work elsewhere with better compensation and working conditions,” reported Dr. Stuart A. Bussey, president of UAPD.   “At the bargaining table we’ve made multiple proposals that would help with prison doctor recruitment, but the State has said no to every one of them.”

“These are not easy patients,” according to Dr. Fernando Tuvera, a physician at SVSP. “I am moved from unit to unit, treating people with injuries, Hepatitis C, end-stage liver disease, COPD, diabetes, and many other conditions.  We work long hours during the day, and the four of us have to divide up all the after-hours coverage too.  That means one week per month I’m working all day and all night.  We need more doctors here.”

The Union has also filed grievances at SVSP over the effects of inadequate staffing on the few remaining doctors, and proposed remedies that would help alleviate the strain.  Those grievances were denied by CCHCS.

New Santa Clara Contract Contains Large Raises

October 28, 2016

For the first time in over 15 years, Santa Clara doctors were able to ratify a successor agreement before the expiration of the previous contract.  The three year contract will increase base salaries for all UAPD specialties by 13% in the first year with an additional 19% increase for Acute Care Services & Juvenile Hall psychiatrists – a total of 32%! For the second and third years, salaries will increase by 3% each year.  The total wage increases are 19% to 38%! In addition, hourly rates for EPS, BAP, Urgent Care and Custody shifts were all raised significantly; new rates range from $161 – $225 per hour depending on shift.

Tuition reimbursement will be increased from $2800 to $4500 per fiscal year and can be rolled over, from year to year, for a total of $9000.  That’s an increase of more than 60% of the current benefit.

The agreement has been ratified by UAPD members, and the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors will vote to ratify this agreement soon

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