California prison psychiatrists could claim $10,000 bonuses as a perk for seeing patients in person under a proposed contract their union negotiated with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.
The bonuses are part of an agreement for the Union of American Physicians and Dentists that ends temporary pay cuts Newsom and the Legislature demanded from public employees last year, when state leaders anticipated a $54 billion budget deficit that never materialized.
Under the proposed agreement, bargaining unit employees would have their full salaries restored, and also receive a 5.06% pay raise, as soon as the contract is ratified. They would receive a further 2% pay increase on July 1, 2022.
The contract carries additional financial incentives for psychiatrists who agree to see patients in-person. That includes a $5,000 pay differential after 60 pay periods, with an additional $5,000 after 84 pay periods.
“Employees performing telemedicine and telepsychiatry services do not qualify for the 60- and 84-month pay differential bonus,” according to the proposed agreement.
The contract also includes $2,500 a year for continuing medical education.
The average total compensation for members of the bargaining unit is $411,625, according to a 2018 report.
Even with the high pay the state has struggled to fill vacant positions in the unit, which represents doctors and psychiatrists working in prisons and state hospitals. About 40% of the state’s psychiatry jobs, including those at prisons and mental institutions, were empty in 2018, the last year for which vacancy rate data was available from CalHR.
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