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UAPD Pulse: Looking Back and Ahead… UAPD 2018

By Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD, UAPD President
 

We can all agree that 2017 was a memorable year-both outside and inside of our union. Donald Trump was sworn in as our 45th president and has used an executive style from his TV show “The Apprentice”. This year global warming became all too real.   Drought, fire and hurricanes spread around the world. Senseless mass shootings continued. Sexual harassment cases abounded.  But…there were also bright spots in 2017.  Unemployment reached an all time low and our economy is booming. Scientific and technology breakthroughs surprise us daily.  A high school senior in Texas bought his special needs classmates new shoes.   A customer in Washington left a $3000 tip for his $39 dinner.  A 5 year old from Mississippi called 911 to arrest the Grinch.  An ophthalmologist in Michigan carried his elderly patient through the snow to his office. The human spirit continues to amaze.

2017 also saw lots of changes and successes at UAPD. In February, after 35 bargaining sessions, UAPD reached an agreement with the State of California and ratified a new MOU.  While the general salary increases were moderate, we scored significant pensionable salary adjustments for hundreds of our members.  This was due in no small part to the strike ratification vote we took in January.  There were many other developments in the state sector which UAPD met with skill and tenacity—“lift and shift” of our DSH psychiatrists to CDCR, telehealth policy changes, ensuring laptops are optional on call, creating research to support the legal case for higher physician salaries, protecting Medical Consultant scope of practice, fighting timekeeping and retaliation issues, and, of course, member grievances.  We also fought against gender discrimination at CSU, contracting out and bullying at our UC clinics.

In LA County the year began with discovery of hundreds of part time intermittent physicians who have never been offered union membership.  We will seek in the long term to remedy this by accreting them into our union.  We remained a strong voice in the Coalition of County Unions. Dr. Mitch Katz, the DHS director, is leaving next year for NYC. He personally suggested that UAPD actively partner with the County to increase recruitment of physician specialists. This joint partnership has already proved to be a success.  Dr. Christina Ghaly will serve as the new DHS Director replacing Dr. Katz.  Also, the Just Culture program, which reduces stress and liability for our members, was rolled out in LA this year.  This revolutionary idea promises to make major improvements in working conditions. LA pharmacists welcomed a new director in Dr. Arun Patel.  The pharmacists continue to need our support for scope and contracting out issues.  Our other county members also have lots to appreciate.  Challenging the Alameda Health System, we successfully amended state law to prohibit AHS from contracting out member jobs without clear evidence of cost savings.  In our San Francisco unit we won an excellent contract, reclassified several physicians and prevented the filing of Form 700 (personal financial disclosures).  Our other counties were well represented with good MOUs (San Joaquin, NE Valley, Solano, etc) and successful grievances.

Our representation in private practice has changed.  Because of dwindling membership and increasing administrative costs, our Board has decided to dissolve our California IPA. Our venture into Washington continued with another private sector bargaining unit, Legacy, being formed. We narrowly lost the Indigo urgent care group, but will try again in 2018. Meanwhile negotiations at Auburn, Washington Medical Center have been steadily moving towards conclusion. Salary stability with reduction of withholds and Just Cause are of prime importance to the bargaining unit. There are many other interested private doctors in Washington.  Legislative issues in both Washington and California were pursued last year. Improvement of non-compete clauses, medical examiner reform, joint employee, single payer, and narrow provider networks were major legislative issues.  AB 119 will allow better union access to new employees in California.  Our new software, Prizm, came online. It will allow us to create an easier and larger member database.

Our internal organizing efforts have yielded great successes with well over a hundred conversions of fair share members to full union membership. We were sorry to say goodbye to several staff who moved on to retirement or other ventures.  Many kudos and thanks to John Murillo and Lux Irvin who contributed greatly to UAPD. They will indeed be missed. But we said hello this year to new reps and organizers—Adrian Mohammed, Indya Adams, Joe Crane, and Gabrielle Hanley.

 

What’s In Store for 2018?

 

Of course, the elephant in the room remains the Janus case, to be heard this February 26th in the United States Supreme Court and will be decided by the end of June 2018. If it is affirmed as expected, agency (fair share) fees for public unions across the US will not be compulsory, and union finances could suffer considerably.  While some may see a crisis, I prefer to see our situation as an opportunity.  Since 1943, twenty seven (27)  states have already become “right to work” states, i.e. without fair share fees. Public unions in these states have adapted to these leaner environments by adopting more energetic philosophies.  Union staffs exist for their members and must “earn their wings” every day. UAPD staff have and will continue to listen and serve our members.  With improved communication platforms, town halls and frequent outreach, UAPD must remain an everyday presence in our members’ lives. Member services must remain an everyday presence in our members’ lives.  Member services must and will remain a top priority.  Our stewards must play an important role in this commitment.  Surveys of our membership and sharing of best practices will continue so that your attitudes and ideas will be heard.  But you must also do your part to preserve these services…by signing up or encouraging others to become full members.

Coalitions with other unions will be strengthened and increased and legislative ideas and influence exerted appropriately to keep our union strong and healthy.  Socially conscious legislation, involving health care and environmental issues must be championed.  Connections to local communities, organizations and institutions will help to improve our image.  We will remain a diversified group and a beacon for all doctors, whether west coast or beyond, public or private.  Medicine has become a political profession. Like it or not, we must navigate in that sphere in order to preserve the identity of physicians and other health care professionals.  Our members must have a voice in their day to day work lives. In the coming year you will see more contact with UAPD staff.  Your dues allow them to listen and serve you. We shall strive for your respect and trust that you will appreciate their efforts.  We truly are a unique organization, set apart from all the other health care organizations and associations.  We are a family of activist staff and member professionals.  We fight together for the dignity and welfare of ourselves and our patients. Let’s appreciate and recognize each other as UAPD heads into the future. We will endure and will flourish because we are warriors. We are UAPD. Happy holidays to you all