UAPD is watching the situation closely and will meet and confer with the State over the issue. In preparation, we ask doctors to use the following survey to share your thoughts and concerns with us.
After two days of intense negotiations, the UAPD Bargaining Team must report that no deal has been reached with the State of California. The offer put forward by the State did not adequately address the serious issues raised by our doctors, including high vacancy rates and dangerous understaffing in many facilities. We have heard from members all across the State that we should settle for nothing less than a fair contract, and that’s what we plan to do. We will return to the table in January, and continue preparations for taking collective action if necessary
Press Release (Oakland) — On Tuesday the State’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report that gave Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) a failing grade for the medical care it provides to inmates at the Soledad facility. Fifteen years after a lawsuit in which a federal judge ruled that the health care given in California prisons constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” the Inspector General found that SVSP still demonstrates “a profound inability to provide patients with adequate access to care.”
Much of the problem comes from an on-going shortage of physicians in California prisons. According to the Inspector General’s report: “Of critical importance was SVSP’s shortage of providers and extreme difficulty with recruitment and retention of qualified physicians. This inadequate staffing at SVSP led to an institutional backlog of over 400 patients at the time of the onsite inspection, and contributed to the inadequate rating.”
Currently, there are four physicians working onsite at Salinas Valley State Prison, treating over 3800 prisoners. The physician shortage is a pervasive problem affecting most of the 34 state adult prisons in California.
On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) spokesperson Joyce Hayhoe “agreed that the prison has a serious, ongoing doctor shortage and said officials are trying to hire doctors.” However, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), which is now negotiating with the State on behalf of prison doctors, believes not enough is being done. UAPD asserts that recruitment and retention is still a serious problem that is affecting patient care.
“The State can’t hire more doctors because doctors can work elsewhere with better compensation and working conditions,” reported Dr. Stuart A. Bussey, president of UAPD. “At the bargaining table we’ve made multiple proposals that would help with prison doctor recruitment, but the State has said no to every one of them.”
“These are not easy patients,” according to Dr. Fernando Tuvera, a physician at SVSP. “I am moved from unit to unit, treating people with injuries, Hepatitis C, end-stage liver disease, COPD, diabetes, and many other conditions. We work long hours during the day, and the four of us have to divide up all the after-hours coverage too. That means one week per month I’m working all day and all night. We need more doctors here.”
The Union has also filed grievances at SVSP over the effects of inadequate staffing on the few remaining doctors, and proposed remedies that would help alleviate the strain. Those grievances were denied by CCHCS.
By now California State University doctors have all received the 3 percent cost of living increase resulting from the Side Letter Agreement with CSU. An additional 2 percent increase was also negotiated, which will go into effect on June 30, 2017. At that time, we will be negotiating with CSU for the next contract, as well. In addition, negotiations continue with CSU on the creation of new specialty physician classifications and associated salary ranges. An announcement will go out when we have updated information.
Our goal as a team is to get the best possible contract for doctors, one which addresses the economic and non-economic issues that many of you have raised. We wanted to reach a tentative agreement with the State by the end of this week, so that the Legislature could approve it before leaving for its summer recess. We have met 25 times over the last 4 months trying to do just that. More than a dozen doctors from every department have joined us at the bargaining table, to give thoughtful, well-documented presentations on the biggest problems that members of our union face.
As we go further along in the bargaining process, the State is bringing forward more information to address the workplace concerns we’ve raised at the table. For instance, we had further discussion of the lack of appropriate break areas, especially within CDCR. The State said redesigned CDCR facilities would incorporate break rooms for doctors’ work areas. In a separate discussion, DSS management clarified that the rules that restrict the number of people on leave at the same time were being misinterpreted in some branches. They agreed to educate managers about the fact that more than 25% of doctors in a branch can be on leave simultaneously.
Last week UAPD finished putting all of our economic proposals on the table. We are looking for a fair across-the-board wage increase for all classifications, plus additional money for those groups that face serious parity and recruitment and retention issues.
While we have made some progress towards an agreement, our team is concerned that the State has not made enough movement on important proposals, like:
• Maintaining the prohibition on timekeeping
• Achieving salary parity where it does not exist
• Increasing on-call compensation and limiting the amount of work call requires
• Increasing CME pay
• Ensuring that evaluations come from qualified (MD, DDS, etc.) peers
• Respecting doctors’ professional judgment
• Providing adequate protection from lawsuits and licensing problems
Last week the UAPD Bargaining Team met with the State for three consecutive negotiation sessions and passed a number of the outstanding non-economic proposals.This will allow us to begin bargaining on economic matters, including salaries, this week.
Here are some of the key proposals that UAPD made:
For Article 12.2 Investigations, UAPD proposed language to guarantee that both the doctor and the union will be notified if there is an open investigation. Doctors in several departments have had the experience of receiving an adverse action without even knowing that they were under investigation. Under 12.3 Progressive Discipline, we also proposed a tighter timeline between when an incident occurs and when a discipline can be issued regarding that incident.
All University of California student health center doctors represented by UAPD received a 3% raise effective Friday, July 1st. This marks the third salary increase in the UAPD contract, totaling a minimum of 10%, and significantly more for doctors at five campuses who were previously below negotiated minimum salaries or who received equity adjustments.
UAPD members will recall that the contract also provided for retroactive lump sum payments. All of the campuses issued the lump sum payments by November 2015, and earlier this year, UAPD began a careful review of each campuses’ calculations. The Union found a structural error in most payroll departments’ methodologies, whereby doctors were not paid for two months of the first retroactive period. UAPD has been working with the Office of the President since that time to ensure that the missing amounts are issued and all doctors receive the full retroactive payments they are due.
As a result, some campuses are issuing corrective payments now and the others will follow soon thereafter. UAPD will send another announcement when the final correct amounts are documented so that any member unsure of their retroactive payment can verify it with the Union.