After 16 months of negotiations that included 53 bargaining sessions and two strikes, doctors at the UC Student Health Centers settled their first contract with the University of California in June. Doctors ratified the agreement on July 20th. While it was a long and difficult negotiation, the team won language that will significantly improve conditions for all UC doctors. All doctors’ pay will increase by at least 7.1% within two weeks of ratification. Moreover, the doctors succeeded in making their first raise retroactive to last year, regaining the money that was on hold while negotiations were ongoing. The contract also set a new minimum salary and brought all doctors up to that level, with retroactivity to last year. UC had long resisted setting a minimum salary for current employees and making the initial raises retroactive. However, doctors showed a steadfastness throughout this long process that convinced UC they had no choice.
In addition to the economic improvements, the TA contains language to help doctors navigate the increasingly difficult campus health environment. For one, the large number of “contract” physicians who were working half-time or more have now been made permanent “career” employees with all the benefits and protections that includes. As unionized workers, all doctors will have protections against unfair discipline or dismissal, as well as a strong grievance procedure to make sure all of the contract terms are enforced. Doctors will also be able to call regular meetings with health center management to discuss problems before they get out of hand. All in all, the Agreement is a very positive first step for student health and counseling center doctors.