UAPD Pulse – Labor Day in the COVID Era

Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD |

Labor Day was created as a Federal holiday in 1894 to honor and recognize the American Labor movement and its workers and the contributions of laborers to the development and achievement of the United States. President Cleveland preferred the September date over May 1st (May Day) since it was not associated with the Haymarket riots in Chicago and less linked to socialism. Parades and picnics have been a staple of Labor Day… until COVID-19 arrived.

As our economy and health care struggle to normalize, new technologies and business practices have developed to connect patients to their providers. And our union is being tested.

Public and private employers have laid off and furloughed our doctors and salaries have stagnated or been reduced. County and State government’s addiction to expensive and less committed contractors ruin the spirit of the loyal civil servant, the worker who provides continuous and efficient care.

Los Angeles County and UAPD have provided an obvious remedy to this problem. A County registry of our own members who work extra shifts at a premium but still save taxpayers lots of money. This cooperation between our union and LA County is extending to recruitment of residents and others to fill vacancies. UAPD has also created a new benefits fund for all of our members. The State of California has also been collaborating with our union to solve the contracted labor problem. We are meeting bi-weekly to produce a white paper to the California legislature regarding recruitment and retention of state physicians.

Traditional physician interactions are being altered in this 21st-century pandemic. Telemedicine visits have skyrocketed and created more access to both public and private patients. Advance ancillary providers, especially nurse practitioners will be allowed independent practice if Governor Newsom signs AB 890. This bill would allow transition to independent practice by NPs in private and county settings by 2023, but not in state sector jobs. You may still let the Governor know your thoughts about this bill before he signs it.

Worker health and safety issues during the pandemic are more important than ever. UAPD doctors and dentists have been speaking out to the press in protest to dangerous bureaucratic decisions that are causing unnecessary infections and deaths in our prisons. UAPD stands 100% behind our workers’ courage and will not tolerate any retaliation from the employer. In Washington state, our Indigo Urgent Care providers will be picketing and possibly striking against the extended and unsafe extended work hours beyond their 12-hour minimum shifts. This sweatshop environment harkens bad to the coal miners of the 19th century or the assembly lines of NYC and Detroit.

For now, however, let us take a break on this Labor Day to celebrate with your friends and family what you have contributed to your patients, your community, and your country. Your labor union will always be there for you to fight for your rights and for a better work environment.

In Solidarity,
Stuart Bussey, MD, JD UAPD President