On August 4th, the DPA gave UAPD notice of CDCR”s intention to lay off thirty-one dentists working in state prisons effective January 14, 2011, as part of a larger plan to reduce the dentist-to-patient ratio and shift work to newly hired dental hygienists. UAPD doctors have responded loud and clear–California needs more, not fewer, dentists, to provide constitutionally adequate care for the highly complex cases found in prisons. No one familiar with the day-to-day workings of prison dental care believes that the work can be done by people without D.D.S. training and licensure. CDCR dentists are already seriously overworked, and cutting the numbers would only exacerbate the problem.

CDCR then proceeded to send surplus notices to more than ninety UAPD-represented dentists, including some who have been working within the prison system for decades. Many dentists had not been warned by their managers to expect the notice. The manner in which the notices were sent exacerbated the tension that already existed as a result of CDCR’s plan.

UAPD has reiterated its request to Meet and Confer with the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA). A special committee of CDCR dentists will join UAPD Bargaining Team members to take part in the Meet and Confer once it is scheduled. In addition to negotiating with DPA, UAPD is pursuing a number of other strategies aimed at reversing the direction of this plan; stay tuned for updates.

Finally, under Section 5.3 of the MOU, the Union cannot condone a “work slowdown, work stoppage, strike, or any other interference with the work and statutory functions or obligations of the State.” If you have questions, please respond to this e-mail or call your labor representative or closest UAPD office. Also, please call or respond to this e-mail if you have ideas or information that might help the Union prevent these layoffs.