Our goal as a team is to get the best possible contract for doctors, one which addresses the economic and non-economic issues that many of you have raised. We wanted to reach a tentative agreement with the State by the end of this week, so that the Legislature could approve it before leaving for its summer recess. We have met 25 times over the last 4 months trying to do just that. More than a dozen doctors from every department have joined us at the bargaining table, to give thoughtful, well-documented presentations on the biggest problems that members of our union face.
Despite our best efforts, the package the State has given us as of today is unacceptable by every measure. Their current offer of a 2% per year general salary increase is too low, as is their offer of a one-time 2% parity increase for those classifications and departments that have fallen behind what others make. Taking away from those already low increases, they are asking doctors to pay an additional .9% towards their retiree health benefits, bringing the total for that to 1.4%. The State offered us no improvement to on-call compensation, no additional CME funds, and no better language pertaining to hours of work. Again, there is nothing in the State’s offer that we as a team would recommend that you ratify. Our plan is to return to the bargaining table in October, and to spend the weeks between now and then building up the power we need to compel the State to offer doctors a fair contract.
We are not the only union to have reached a stalemate with the State this month. SEIU (representing nurses and many other classifications) has already taken a successful strike vote, while AFSCME 2620 (representing psychologists, social workers, RTs and others) walked out of negotiations this week with the intention of returning in October. We will explore the option of working side by side with these other unions to push the State out if its current intransigent mode. Stay tuned for more information on our next steps.