Last week the State made a presentation on OPEB, Other Post-Employment Benefits. OPEB are the benefits other than pension that retired workers receive from the employer, such as retiree health benefits. The State provided data indicating $436 million in unfunded liability for the retiree health benefits for our unit. They have proposed raising the prefunding contribution to 1% of salary next year (from 0.5% currently) and 1.4% the following year. Under their proposal, the State would be contributing an equivalent amount to the retiree health benefit fund. For new employees, the State also wants to introduce a vesting schedule for health and dental benefits, so that the State would pay 50% of benefits for those who retiree with 15 years of seniority and 100% of benefits for those with 25 years. For new employees, the State also wants decrease the amount the State will pay towards Medicare supplemental plans. The presenter argued that changes are necessary to make the retirement health program economically stable, but UAPD has questions about whether the costs they are projecting are truly realistic. We also know that cutting the benefits for future employees will make recruitment more difficult.
Over the past few weeks, the State sent representatives of the Office of Protective Services (OPS) and the Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) to discuss their procedures for investigating employees. UAPD is concerned that doctors are not being properly notified when under investigation and that investigations sometimes take far too long. The OPS Chief who was presenting for the State admitted that at some DSH facilities, doctors were not being notified that they were under investigation. Moving forward, he said, members can expect to see an initial notice if they’ve been identified as a subject of investigation, as well as general information about the issue. There should be no more than a few days between the time of an incident and employee notification, which is the time it takes for the Office of Law Enforcement Support (OLES) to decide whether to proceed with an investigation and, if so, how to approach it.
Within CDCR, the OIA’s practice has been to notify doctors right before an investigatory meeting is scheduled, even if the investigation has been going on for a long period of time before that. The OIA Special Agent presenting for the State admitted that some investigations still take more than a year. The union believes doctors have the right to a resolution without unreasonable delay, and is looking at ways to strengthen that language in the contract. The OIA Special Agent acknowledged that the agency is bound by the UAPD contract as long as the terms are not in violation of the law.
UAPD signed a tentative agreement (TA) on language that allows grievance meetings to be conducted via telephone or video conference if both sides agree to do so. We also cleaned up some language about employee addresses. We agreed to “rollover” some contract language that neither side wished to change. We made counter proposals on language related to the information that the State provides us on a regular basis and to our Union Rights article.
We are working to release Department of State Hospital physicians to discuss salary parity issues in the near future. We will update everyone about that discussion.