Legislative Advocacy

AB 366 Passes!

October 9, 2011

Michael Allen’s AB 366 streamlines the process for providing involuntary medications to PC 1370s. UAPD sponsored the bill as part of its campaign to improve safety within the State Department of Mental Health. The bill benefited from the active support of UAPD members like Dr. Patricia Tyler, who was instrumental in writing language for the bill and lobbying for its passage. Drs. Richard Frishman and Scott Sutherland joined her in testifying in support of the bill, which was signed into law by Governor Brown, whose signing message can be read here.

Other UAPD-Sponsored Bills: Read more …

State Hospital Medication Bill Goes to Governor

September 10, 2011

In a victory for UAPD members working at Department of Mental Health (DMH) facilities, one of the bills sponsored by UAPD to address the violence problem there has passed both the Assembly and Senate and now awaits a signature from the governor.  Many UAPD members, particularly those working at Napa State Hospital, have actively lobbied for the passage of this bill.

From the Napa Valley Register:

“A bill that would streamline the process of providing involuntary medications to hospital patients who refuse treatment passed the state Assembly on Thursday.  Assembly bill 366 by Assembly member Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa will improve safety at Napa State Hospital and other state facilities for both patients and staff, his office said…

The legislation “does not erode any current due process rights for patients, and, in fact, adds a periodic court review of medication orders, a protection patients don’t currently have,” Allen said.”

Read more about AB 366

US Supreme Court Orders California Prisoner Release

August 7, 2011

From UAPD President Dr. Stuart Bussey:

You have undoubtedly heard about the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling that 33,000 CDCR inmates must be released over the next few years from California’s overcrowded prisons.

What this means for UAPD’s physicians, psychiatrists and dentists is unclear at this time.  We have not yet discussed the ruling with CDCR administration or the Federal Receiver. It is unclear where the released inmates will go or who will provide their medical care.

If any of the medical or dental positions are to be reduced, it is possible they could be absorbed by the current vacancies within CDCR, especially in psychiatry.  There may well be new appointments of our doctors in the parole agencies or in the new acute care facilities which are now being built across the state.

While there is still much uncertainty, one thing is for sure:  UAPD will endeavor to keep the responsibility for the medical, psychiatric, and dental care in the hands of our union doctors.  We will update members as more information becomes known.

Assemblymember Allen Works Shift at Napa State Hospital

August 5, 2011

“I just wanted a very unvarnished, unscripted slice of what it really is like at the state hospital. And I wanted free access to the wards,” said Allen, a first-term Democrat who has helped lift the veil on conditions in the hospital system in the wake of a psychiatric technician’s strangulation at Napa last fall. — From LA Times article Lawmaker makes quiet visit to Napa State Hospital

See also Assemblyman Allen works shift at Napa State in Napa Valley Register

More County Doctors Join UAPD PAC

June 21, 2011

Recently Los Angeles County Psychiatrists and Dentists (BU 325) completed surveys that demonstrated their desire to have a stronger voice in Los Angeles-area politics. As a result, the UAPD Executive Board voted to create a program for collecting voluntary political contributions from Bargaining Unit 325 members, which can be used in support of local causes.

In the past, UAPD has used money donated to the union’s Political Action Committee (PAC) to protect pensions, stop privatization of doctor jobs, and resist infringements on our scopes of practice. UAPD PAC money also supports the campaigns of California candidates who have shown a willingness to support doctors’ causes. Historically, it has been the State-employed doctors who have made the bulk of the PAC contributions, in large part because a simple system for collecting contributions has long been in place for state workers. Creating systems to increase PAC participation of county doctors makes more PAC money available for county-level candidates and issues. The Los Angeles County BU 325 doctors are leading the way.

May Budget Revise and UAPD

June 21, 2011

The California budget affects most UAPD members, not just those employed by the State.  County and clinic providers feel the impact of many State funding cuts deeply, and doctors in private practice do as well.  With that in mind, the UAPD Legislative Staff,  under the leadership of Chief Lobbyist Doug Chiappetta, combs over each budget proposal to determine how it might affect UAPD members.  When budget cuts threaten members, UAPD goes into action, making sure decision makers hear why the work our members do is important.

In May Sacramento saw the release of the Assembly Republicans’ budget plan, which the Los Angeles Times characterized as “relying on deep spending cuts for state workers, the mentally ill and the disabled.” The Republican caucus proposed:   * State worker layoffs  and pay cuts equaling 10% of payroll, plus an additional 10% across the board reduction in department budgets. * Hiring $700 million worth of new contractors. * Transferring prison health care from CDCR to any qualified outside vendor.  * Cutting $1.3 billion in payments to the needy, including welfare grants, adult day-care centers, and assistance for the elderly.

Needless to say, UAPD and AFSCME denounced the Republican budget plan and are lobbying hard to secure its defeat.  In addition, more than 100 UAPD members responded to a request to contact their local Republican law makers to remind them that State workers deserve fair treatment.

Not surprisingly, Governor Brown’s May Revise takes a much more measured approach to addressing the current deficit, though there are still areas of potential concern for UAPD members.  While a plan to increase the DMH budget for safety and security by $9.5 million is no doubt positive, less clear is the potential impact of Brown’s proposal to shift responsibility for the state hospitals to a new state department.  UAPD is tracking the issue closely and will report as more is known.  Brown is also proposing cost-saving measures for CDCR Medical Services, and aims to cut costs by reducing the size of the inmate population.   He also proposes delaying the opening of the Redding and Fresno Veterans Homes.  Specific budget bills are now being drafted and proposed by legislators, and UAPD will update members via e-mail and the website as they take shape.

Safety Now! Coalition Goes Statewide

June 21, 2011

Safety Now!, the coalition of unionized Department of Mental Health (DMH) workers that was organized at Napa State Hospital after the murder of Psychiatric Technician Donna Gross, officially became a statewide movement at an energetic meeting held at the SEIU offices in Sacramento on May 4th.  The meeting was attended by UAPD doctors from every DMH hospital in the state as well as dozens of other union workers.

Safety Now! coalition members are now calling on DMH to immediately follow through on the commitment it made to hire more security and direct care staff in the DMH hospitals.   An April meeting between State Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley and Napa workers resulted in her lifting the statewide hiring ban from DMH hospitals.  Secretary Dooley’s visit came on the heels of a disastrous week for DMH, in which two Napa State Hospital patients died, OSHA issued a $100,140 fine for “serious” and “willful” violations of workers’ safety at Napa, and NPR’s Ina Jaffe did a three-part, nationally broadcast story detailing workers’ safety concerns.

In coming weeks Safety Now! members plan to do coordinated actions to continue addressing the safety problems in DMH hospitals. The staff at Metropolitan Hospital were the first to ramp up their activism in the wake of the meeting, holding a successful “march on the boss” on May 17th to present a statement of their demands to DMH management.

Coalition members have also been speaking to legislators about the safety issue and giving testimony on DMH-related bills. Senators Noreen Evans and Sam Blakeslee and Assembly Members Michael Allen and Katcho Achadjian have all sponsored bills this session that, if passed, will help reverse the epidemic of violent attacks on staff and patients within the Department of Mental Health.

UAPD continues to examine what impact the governor’s proposed budget might have on the Department of Mental Health.  In addition to authorizing an additional $9.5 million for security teams at three hospitals, the budget proposes closing down the Department of Mental Health and shifting responsibility for state hospitals to a newly created department with that focus.

UAPD Defends Doctors from Baseless OIG Attack

May 25, 2011

In a poorly researched, poorly argued report released in April, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) alleged that some BU 16 employees at Mule Creek State Prison were not working full 40 hour work weeks. Even before the report was made public, UAPD Labor Representative Zegory Williams was aggressively enforcing the UAPD contract and defending the reputation of Mule Creek doctors before the OIG, DPA, and CDCR.

After multiple meetings with representatives from the DPA, OIG and CDCR, Williams has successfully settled a grievance which guarantees:

1. No doctor will be disciplined based on data the OIG gathered in its Mule Creek investigation.

2. While the Mule Creek scanner will remain in place as a safety device, all data it collects will be expunged every 21 days, making it useless as a timekeeping device.

3. The DPA agreed that doctors cannot be subject to any timekeeping mechanisms and have the right to representation in meetings that may result in discipline.

4. The OIG wrote a letter that clarified that during any of its so-called audits, “if the interview questions involve and employee’s personal involvement, including their conduct or behavior with a process or procedure, the employee has the right to decline to be interviewed without any repercussion or consequence.” Read the Letter from OIG to DPA and UAPD

In addition to Williams’ clear victory in the case, there was another bit of happy news: the OIG is on Governor Brown’s short list of departments to eliminate as a cost-cutting measure this year. Good riddance!

Republicans Attack Public Workers in California

May 13, 2011

The California State Assembly Republicans have put out a budget proposal that would be disastrous for civil service workers and those that rely on them. An article in today’s Los Angeles Times characterizes the plan as “relying on deep spending cuts for state workers, the mentally ill and the disabled.”

The Assembly Republicans have proposed:

  • State worker layoffs and pay cuts equaling 10% of payroll, plus an additional 10% across the board reduction in department budgets.
  • Hiring $700 million worth of new contractors.
  • Transferring prison health care out of CDCR to any qualified outside vendor.
  • Cutting $1.3 billion in payments to the needy, including welfare grants, adult day-care centers, and in-home assistance for the elderly.

The Republican caucus of the State Senate applauded the Assembly Republicans’ attack on civil service workers and those who rely on them.  UAPD and AFSCME, on the other hand, have denounced the Republican budget plan and are lobbying hard to secure its defeat.

If you have a Republican Assembly Member or Senator representing your district, why not take two minutes to remind him or her that public sector workers demand fair treatment and that PUBLIC WORKERS VOTE?

Click HERE to look up your legislators’ contact information.

Safety Now! Facebook Page Launched

May 12, 2011

Are you a Facebook user?  Visit the Safety Now! Facebook page for full coverage of the fight to improve conditions at Department of Mental Health hospitals.  Remember to “Like” the page to receive regular updates from the Safety Now Coalition on your Facebook wall.