When a session with a mediator failed to result in an acceptable agreement with Santa Cruz County in July, UAPD filed a request for fact finding with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Since then, we’ve created a fact finding panel consisting of one UAPD appointee (former Executive Director Gary Robinson), one County appointee (Ann Goodrich, a consultant for Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai, the law firm hired by the County to handle fact finding) and a neutral third-party arbitrator, Walter Kawecki. The panel is scheduled to meet on October 10th and October 23rd.
While it will be disappointing to be without a contract one year after our agreement expired (in September 2012), holding fact finding after the expiration of the General Representation Unit’s contract (in September 2013) might present some advantages for our group. At the very least, we will know by then whether the SEIU unit accepts the sort of cut-rate package the County has been offering doctors, including no raises in 2013 or 2014. The County has also proposed that doctors pay 20% of their own health care premiums and that retiree health care benefits, already less than what other County workers receive, be prorated based on years of service. Simply put, the County gave doctors no reason to reach an agreement with them this year.
During fact finding UAPD will provide evidence that demonstrates that the County can and should increase doctor pay in order to fill vacant positions. The County currently relies too heavily on expensive Locum Tenens physicians, managers, and extra help to do bargaining unit work, and the problem will only intensify with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. For its part, the County is expected to claim that Santa Cruz doctors already make as much as doctors in comparable counties, and that Santa Cruz cannot afford to make the improvements proposed by UAPD. In addition to providing evidence to support our position, UAPD will provide evidence to refute the claims that the County is expected to make.