February Update for Los Angeles County Bargaining Unit 324 Physicians

More than one hundred members of Bargaining Unit 324 mailed back bargaining surveys, in which they voted unanimously in favor of rolling over the current contract for one year.  Other County Unions are also extending their contracts rather than risk bargaining wages and benefits during a recession.  BU 325 will be surveyed on the same issue soon.

The BU 325 rollover, which will preserve current contract language until September 2012, will be put in place within the next few months, well before the expiration of the current contract in September 2011.  This rollover will better protect jobs, salaries, step increases, services and benefits during this challenging political and economic period.  For instance, all doctors not already at the top salary step will continue to receive step increases this year (July 2011) and next year (July 2012) under the agreement.

In other news, the Countywide Joint Labor-Management Committee (JLMC) held its monthly meeting in February.  Representatives from the Sheriff’s Department Employee Relations, a Lieutenant from custody staff, and representatives from the Chief Executive Office Classification and Compensation Unit met with the Union.  Discussion of a plan to enhance recruitment efforts to fill the many vacant physician positions in the Sheriff’s Department has begun.  The department will report back in March on the plan.

Health care reform is placing safety-net systems like that of Los Angeles County at a crossroads.  How will the County retain its patient base as well as serve in an expanded capacity as a “medical home”?  How well will it compete with the private sector for new enrollment?  Thus far County representatives have been vague about how health care reform will affect physicians  and dentists currently working for the County.     As administrators make changes to the county health care system to meet the new federal requirements, UAPD will serve as an important point of  ongoing contact between providers and management.