When dealing with an employer like the University of California (UC), establishing a new union inevitably involves a lot of back-and-forth during the union’s first days. Please take a moment to review where we are in this process. Although UC has placed some obstacles in our path, UAPD is confident that UC doctors will be bargaining their first contract before long. We are moving forward.
In January doctors working at the UC student health centers started gathering union authorization cards. The goal was to form a union by collecting signed cards from at least half of the health center doctors. UAPD filed the authorization cards with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) in early April.
In May, after reviewing our authorization cards against an employee list provided by UC, PERB determined that a majority of the doctors working for the student health centers supported unionizing with UAPD. This was a significant accomplishment. UAPD notified UC that we wish to begin bargaining over the wages, benefits, and working conditions of the doctors immediately.
On June 5, UC announced that on July 1, “eligible, non-represented staff employees” would receive average salary increases of 3 percent. They said the raise was “intended to acknowledge the fact that non-represented employees have received only one general salary increase in the past five years.” Union-represented employees, who have been negotiating their own raises during that time period, are not eligible for the July 1 increase.
Following UC’s June 5 announcement, UAPD surveyed UC doctors. We asked whether the union should demand that doctors be included for the July 1 raise (which would likely mean accepting retiree health benefit cuts and a 1.5% pension contribution increase on July 1 as well), or should we tell UC that we want to negotiate all wage and benefit issues at the bargaining table. A strong majority of respondents voted to tell UC that we want to handle these matters in bargaining.
On June 10, UC attorneys notified UAPD and PERB that they were not going to recognize our new unit as proposed. UC claims that the unit we organized contains some doctors who should not be included. This tactic by UC may delay the start of negotiations, but it will not eliminate UC’s legal obligation to bargain in good faith with UAPD.
UAPD strongly believes the law is on our side in constituting the unit exactly as we did. Through our attorney, we reached out to UC with a proposal to settle the issue, but UC has not accepted the very reasonable offer that we made. Our next step was to file a Petition for Board Investigation asking PERB to resolve the dispute over the makeup of the bargaining unit. While we wait for the PERB process to begin, we continue to reach out to UC to try to settle the issue more quickly in an informal setting. And in the meantime, UAPD has reiterated that we want to bargain over the wages, benefits, and working conditions of doctors, including all changes scheduled for July 1.
UAPD is confident that, despite UC’s objections, the new doctor’s union will be recognized and negotiations for a first contract will begin. We are doing everything in our power to make sure that happens quickly.