Q and A on CCSF Layoff and Furlough Plan

Question:  Why should doctors sacrifice more work hours which would de facto result in decreased billing and decreased productivity for the Department of Public Health?

Answer: Sometimes the City seems to remember this and sometimes they don’t. For example, despite agreements on their part to work with UAPD to provide billing accuracy and completeness seminars during the last round of negotiations, there has been essentially no follow up. Also, not all MDs are in billing units; there are some that just do preventative work, are grant supported, or do administrative work. Finally, as we have been abruptly informed by DPH Human Resources on occasion, revenues at sites like LHH are all about nursing day equivalent reimbursements—and therefore, they don’t view MD revenues there to be very important.

Question: As a 20-hour worker, the main reason I returned to city work from private practice is for the health and pension benefits.  Why would the City risk the loss of so many of us who could not continue on our positions without such benefits incentives?

Answer:  The negotiating team has clearly made that point to the City at the table. It’s interesting—DPH Human Resources staff are clear that they have some sort of actuarial expectation of what percentage of our bargaining unit leaves in any given year—-though they haven’t shared that number.  They also haven’t shared what they think will happen this year under exceptional circumstances.   Furthermore, their observations about the number of positions being permanently laid-off so far don’t seem to line up with what seems to be filtering back to us.  Sometimes, one begins to wonder if it wouldn’t be easier for the City as an employer if a large percentage of the work force did leave; realistically, with a deficit of $500 million this year and $700 million in the next two years—reducing workforce size is about the only way the budget gets balanced. We can’t read their minds and they haven’t shared with us what their exact plan is.

Question: Why can’t our group be treated like police officers, firefighters and emergency/hospital workers who have been held harmless during this time?

Answer: In brief, we’re not viewed that way by the City or its voters. Those emergency services (also known as public safety) workers are viewed by the City and the electorate as taking care of the entire City, from its richest to poorest citizens.  Doctors, on the other hand, are seen as taking care primarily of the poor. This meant we are viewed as an extra expenditure in a way that those services are not. Public Safety’s special status has been enshrined by the voters through Charter Amendments supporting staffing and minimum work force levels. No one has ever realistically suggested that the voters of San Francisco would support the same workforce amendments for public health.

Question: Why doesn’t UAPD get a charter amendment passed to support DPH funding the same way that Fire and Police funding is covered? Aren’t we a critical emergency and public health service? Can we propose raising taxes, selling excess City property and so on and so forth?

Answer:  Mustering the political will, political action funds and supervisor support to get a charter amendment proposed is difficult. Even if you could get it proposed by the Board, getting it passed by the City’s voters in the current budget climate seems impossible.  Our energy could be better spent on other things.

Question: How we can support your efforts to get more of the truth from the city officials with whom you are dealing?

Answer:  If you happen to have personal relationships with politicians in town who are not adverse to hearing from you on these issues—by all means, speak up.  And please contact the bargaining team to let us know what success you have had.

Question:  Shouldn’t our contract, which goes through 2011, serve as a powerful, binding bulwark against major concessions?

Answer:  Yes, having a closed contract right now is extremely important, and it didn’t happen by accident.  The only reason to reopen the contract is if something more attractive was offered to us by the City.

Question: I am quite skeptical of approving further concessions without 1) more transparency from the City and 2) concessions from the public-at-large via revenue-generating proposals. Why should we make consider making concessions if no other alternatives are being considered?

Answer:  The negotiating team would not consider more concessions unless we got something better in return.

Question: Did we not, as UAPD, give back more than most unions this fiscal year? I thought that we already had banked some percentage givebacks compared with other unions.

Answer:  Yes, we did.  Two things to note.  1) UAPD granted concessions in order to have a contract in place during this year.  With a locked contract, we can listen to what the City has to say but we don’t have to do anything about it.  2) If we WERE willing to open our closed contract to discuss anything, the Central HR department has indicated it would “credit” us with those current concessions towards whatever savings goal it’s trying to get to department by department.

Question: How many UAPD doctors received layoff notices?

Answer:  The total number of layoffs in our unit is 213, which is close to the 219 total bargaining unit members.  However, there are still anomalies.  Why did some members get  60 page packets, while others did not?   We have submitted an information request on this and other questions.

Question: Can we be know which of the of non-layoff noticed workers are actually charter-protected, as opposed to politically protected, positions? Can we demand a listing of positions which were chosen to receive layoff notices and which were not to provide transparency and accountability?

Answer: We included that question in the information Request that was submitted.  Also, no one from the City claimed that all 10,000 workers that escaped the layoff notice are charter-protected.

Question:  Can UAPD conduct an internal survey as to which physicians would retire or resign given different pending scenarios?

Answer:  If the layoff plan proceeds, UAPD has plans to survey the membership on that.

Question:  Should we resist agreeing to concessions until the city comes clean about which of our members’ jobs would be eliminated even if our unit agreed to furlough days?  Can we insist on job security as a precondition for any concessions, meaning no layoffs in our union group if we do indeed vote for furloughs?

Answer:  That is the plan.  The bargaining team plans to accept no proposals from the City until we know more.  Once questions are answered, the team will make a decision based on our understanding of the members; desires.  Any deal reached by the team would only take effect if ratified by a vote of the membership.