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The UAPD Pulse – By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D.

2019: Uncertainty…and Possibility

December 28, 2018

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

Tariff wars, Middle East and US Border tensions, government shutdown, stock market volatility. 2019 could be a difficult year for our economy and our country. On the other hand, unemployment is low, wages are slowly rising and the impact of Janus on public unions is lower than expected. UAPD will be shoring up our public sector while organizing our private markets. With streamlined staffing and consolidated offices, our union hopes to grow in size and strength. I ask that you, our members, participate and share your voices and ideas with us whenever you can.

The direction of your jobs, careers and health care delivery should be dependent on your increased professional input. Our union will continue to fight for better working conditions and health care for your patients. UAPD is more than just another non-profit corporation. It is a sisterhood and brotherhood. We need to communicate and help one another. I look forward to achieving our possibilities in the coming year.

State of Our Union in 2018 — DBA (“Doing Business As”) UAPD

November 19, 2018

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

Fellow UAPD members, staff, and honored guests, 

I will start this State of the Union address with a well-known quote from Ruth Stafford Peale… “Find a Need …and Fill It.” These words describe the essence of a successful business model. Whether a service or product, the customer’s needs must be satisfied in order for an organization to survive, to thrive. In the case of our nonprofit corporate entity, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, the customers are you, the members. You pay dues, you support our staff and each other, and you give good care to your patients. Our job is to take care of you. Among the services that our union has provided to our members for nearly half a century have been to bargain contracts, to enforce their provisions by grievance and arbitration, to represent them in disciplinary actions, and to fight for a safe workplace.

Since 1977 public unions, including ours, were assured of a 100% “customer base” by virtue of the US Supreme Court decision Abood v. The City of Detroit. That court decided that members of bargaining units who didn’t want to be part of a union for whatever reason still had to pay their ”fair share” for the contracts and services their union provided them. But times have changed. Our country has changed. With the rise of an oligarchy, increasing corporate influence, technology, and global outsourcing, unions have lost their influence. In the 1950s 36% of workers belonged to unions. Now only 11% do.

Those who never fully embraced the philosophy of union membership seized upon this summer’s Janus Supreme Court decision to drop out of their unions, to become non-members. Across the country, public unions now face a reckoning. While some unions lost only a few members, others lost almost half of their membership. Despite our best efforts to convince them to remain or become full members, UAPD lost a fifth of its membership. Almost all of that loss was from the fair share sector. Only a handful of our loyal full members have dropped out. That is good news. But make no mistake. The fair share member loss has significantly decreased financial resources with which to serve our members.

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End of Summer Update — Time for a Happy Hour

August 24, 2018

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

Vacations are ending and school is back in session. Two months have passed since the Supreme Court ruled for Mark Janus and against mandatory fair share fees. I am pleased to report that our members have remained steadfast and loyal to UAPD. Many of our former fair share members have signed on as full members. This bodes well for UAPD solidarity.

Speaking of coming together, we will convene our 15th UAPD Triennial Convention in San Francisco October 26-27. You will be receiving a letter and packet in a few days describing convention activities and how to become a delegate. I look forward to meeting you and exchanging ideas with you there. The topic of our free CME on Friday morning is “Heal Thyself.”

Part of professional healing is being able to open up, communicate and learn from your fellow colleagues. That could involve anything from sharing new ideas, expressing frustrations and triumphs, telling stories and humorous anecdotes—call it “UAPD Happy Hour.” Our officers and I plan to host this teleconference forum for UAPD members across the state and Washington on the third Tuesday of each month, from 6-7 pm. This time should provide a good opportunity to get to know our union and each other better. Details on how to participate will be forthcoming after Labor Day. Meanwhile, thanks for being a loyal member of our Union.

Doctors, Unite—Celebrate Interdependence Day!

June 27, 2018

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

Today, in the shadow of the Independence Day weekend, the US Supreme Court declared by a 5-4 vote that public union “fair share” agency fees are unconstitutional and not mandatory. They chose fuzzy borders of free speech and association over the gritty reality of free ridership to justify this potential financial blow to labor unions. The Janus vs AFSCME decision marks the final chapter of the 75-year-old “Right to Work” anti-labor law playbook which has progressed through 26 state legislatures. Now the rule is federalized.

Many of the fair share members who did not join UAPD as full members were unaware of the important differences between these two categories. Now after the Janus decision there won’t be any more fair share members, only non-members. There are big advantages to being a full member. Most importantly, when UAPD has a robust roster of full members, committed to the principles of unionism, the employer takes notice. There is strength in numbers. We have greater staff resources. This power leads to more favorable contracts, grievance outcomes, better representation and greater respect for the bargaining unit. Higher membership leads to greater member involvement, optimism, community, and synergy of ideas to improve the workplace. Only full members can participate in contract surveys and bargaining sessions, be on committees, participate in legislation, attend free CME, and enjoy our legal defense fund. There are monetary union perks as well–reduced mortgage payments, rental and insurance discounts, etc.

Corporate and billionaire interests will continue their efforts to deconstruct unions in the US because they see them as one of the last roadblocks to a plantation economy–where there is little resistance to unreasonable and self-serving policies. Where they can pay less and expect more from their employees. Let’s fight back! The words “doctors and union” have been an oxymoron. We traditionally are individualists and have been likened to herds of cats. Following today’s Janus decision, however, we must unite to survive. Stay or become a full member… but don’t turn into a non-member! Seek out a fair and a satisfying workplace by working together.  Please consider this over the long weekend. It is good to be independent, but it is crucial to interdependent.  

Are You in or You Out? Top 10 Reasons to Be a Full UAPD Member

May 24, 2018

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

With the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision expected in days or weeks, we UAPD full and fair share members face an important decision. The Court will likely decide that public union fair share fees are not legal or collectible and that there will be only two possibilities-full membership and non-membership–Do you fair share fee payors really want to stop paying your fair share fees and become nonmembers, jump ship, free ride? Many of our fair share payors incorrectly believe that because they pay fair share fees of 0.86% of their salary, for union services, that they are full members. They are not. For only .04% more of your salary, you may enjoy UAPD full membership benefits- participating in bargaining, voting for the contract, being on union committees, running for office, free CME and legal consultation. to name a few. Over the last year UAPD stewards, staff, and representatives have been asking you to become full members. It’s not too late to convert over to full membership. Just click on the link at the bottom and fill out the appropriate membership form.

To our doctors and providers who are already full members, you have our unwavering gratitude for your loyalty and service. We need you to recommit your full membership by clicking the link at the bottom of this article and fill out the appropriate membership form. If the Janus decision is adverse to public unions, we anticipate that big money and union busting organizations like the Freedom Foundation will try to contact you. They will argue that you should drop your full membership and not pay any dues money for your union services. That makes no sense.  Don’t listen to them. Would a patient not pay anything for medical services? A patron not pay a shopkeeper for a product? A citizen not pay taxes for government services? New York State has already passed legislation that would make certain benefits applicable only to full union members. California lawmakers are also considering similar legislation. Your membership is critical to our union’s survival! Without your full membership and dues, we cannot provide you with a good contract and representation services. It’s time for us all to acknowledge the value of UAPD.


The TOP TEN REASONS we must remain or become full UAPD members

  1. A Good Union Contract is Your Best Return on Investment- where else can 0.9% dues yield several percent annual salary and other monetary increases? We need a robust staff to bargain for good contracts
  2. Grievances Matter- without adequate resources our representatives cannot comprehensively address and correct contract violations.
  3. Pension and Benefits – We need strong political alliances and resources to maintain good pensions, defined contributions, and health benefits.
  4. Just Cause and Just Culture– The best defenses against capricious discipline and system dysfunction have been negotiated and maintained by UAPD
  5. Time off- Vacation, leave and flexible work hours become as important as money as you age. Ensure UAPD has adequate staff to fight for them.
  6. Relevant Legislation- Whether union, health care, or socially conscious UAPD’s political arm needs membership muscle and resources to advocate
  7. Legal Defense- To supply our members with top legal advice, defense and advocacy we must maintain a superior legal program and consultants
  8. CME and other free perks- only members may enjoy free CME, legal consultation, union plus insurance, discounts on mortgages and more
  9. Leadership and Involvement- only as a member can you become a steward, vote for contracts, serve on union committees, or run for union office
  10. Fighting for Equity in health care- For half a century UAPD has stood for fair treatment of our patients, doctors, and providers. Let’s keep it up!

 

Colleagues, sisters, and brothers, please click on the link below and choose the appropriate Docusign form to commit to full membership. Don’t go it alone and miss out on UAPD benefits.

JOIN UAPD

Doctors: Independent Professionals or Government Agents?

April 2, 2018

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

The sad look in my patient’s eyes reached down to the pit of my stomach “I only want to drive a couple of miles to my friend’s house” he lamented. But Carl’s progressive dementia and arthritis couldn’t allow me to sign his DMV driver’s license form.  Increasingly, we physicians have been placed in the often uncomfortable position of being both the investigator and enforcer of privileges involving health issues. Driving, adoption, school and sports participation, employment, disability, competence, and conservatorship are only some of them.  Institutions, especially our governments, look to us for guidance and assign liability to our decisions.

This holds special relevance for our UAPD doctors who are employed in various levels of government. What happens when our professional judgment and scientific reasoning collide with the protocols of an agency or a supervisor with a personal agenda? We have all experienced conflicts regarding patient care or disposition with our supervisors and administrators. Debates about appropriate medications at CDCR, discharge decisions at County hospitals or claimant disability at DSS often make us feel that we are mere tools of government, not independent practitioners.
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UAPD Pulse: Looking Back and Ahead… UAPD 2018

December 26, 2017

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.

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California’s Climate Change: Single-Payer

June 7, 2017

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

Two seemingly unconnected events last Thursday remind us that we live in a progressive, independent-minded state. First, the California Senate passed SB 562 (Lara/D), the Healthy California single-payer bill. This bill purports to solve our state’s health care access problem, which has been partially relieved by the ACA and is now threatened by the new AHCA bill. The California Assembly is preparing for the weighty debate on how exactly to pay for SB 562’s universal coverage. Cost estimates range from $330 billion/year (UMass study) to $400 billion/year (legislative analysis). These figures are comparable to the 2016 estimate of California’s health care cost of $370 billion. Much of this money would be available as repurposed Medicare and Medi-Cal money — and the Feds would have to agree. The State, under Healthy California, would take on the role of single insurer. The plan would be governed by a nine member board of experts who would authorize payments to hospitals, doctors, ancillaries and pharmaceutical firms in a hybridized and collectively bargained fee-for-service paradigm. The collective bargaining part of the bill could elevate UAPD as a preeminent representative of many of California’s providers. Physicians probably would be working at discounted rates of reimbursements, but they would at least be paid promptly and by one entity (the State). They would not have to play tiresome reimbursement and authorization games with dozens of profit-motivated insurance companies. Doctors should spend less time billing and more time with their patients.
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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…

March 14, 2017

By Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD, UAPD President
 
Believe it or not, this phrase was coined by a British advertising agency to emphasize the virtue of  patience in waiting for Guinness ale to be correctly poured into a mug.  But it also applies to our UAPD members who wait patiently while their bargaining teams negotiate contracts for them.

Late last month the UAPD State Bargaining Team reached a Tentative Agreement with the State of California.  While the team strongly recommended ratification of the agreement, we all knew that not everyone would be completely satisfied by what the contract contains.
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State Negotiations: Chess or Chicken?

November 30, 2016

By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., UAPD President

First things first. I hope that you enjoyed a well-deserved Thanksgiving holiday.

The game of chess requires clarity of mind, the ability to think ahead and effectively guess what moves your opponent will make. The same cannot be said for the game of chicken. Less reason, more nerve and resolve. Which player will blink and give in first? With over half of the twenty-one State bargaining unit negotiations stalemated, both of these games are being played by the State and by its employees right now.

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