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UAPD Sponsered Bill That Would Eliminate Copays for Inmates Passes First Committee

February 28, 2019

On February 26th, California’s Assembly Public Safety Committee voted to pass Assembly Bill 45, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz). AB 45, which UAPD (Local AFSCME 206) has co-sponsored, would eliminate medical and dental co-payments and charges for health care appliances in prisons and jails. The passage comes on the heels of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) recent announcement that they will stop charging copayments for medical and dental services and appliances like dentures effective March 1, 2019.

Since 1995, California prisons have required a $5 medical copay from incarcerated people seeking medical or dental care. In most county jails, inmates must pay a copay of $3. California counties that do not collect medical co-payments from people in jail include Napa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Tulare. In 2017, the Prison Policy Initiative calculated that someone earning prison job minimum wage would have to work over 60 hours to afford one copay. For many prisoners, this is often a costly choice that can result in deadly consequences. In 2003, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified copays as one of the factors contributing to an MRSA outbreak among incarcerated people in California. Proponents of the bill also argue that medical co-pays exacerbate racial inequities within public health.  Because Black and Brown people are disproportionately incarcerated, barriers to affordable healthcare created through copays intensify existing racial health disparities.

The UAPD, alongside the ACLU of California, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Initiate Justice are now looking to the California Legislature to eliminate these co-payments and medical equipment charges in county jails and to ensure that they can’t be reinstated in state prison.

Read more about: Featured, Legislative Advocacy, News

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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Arbitrator Mandates Alameda Health System Employ UAPD Psychiatrists

January 9, 2019

In July 2018, UAPD decisively won at arbitration against Alameda Health System (AHS).  Two years prior to that time, AHS contracted out psychiatrists’ jobs in the psychiatric emergency services/triage services to Traditions Behavioral Health (TBH), flagrantly violating both UAPD’s MOU and a California statute, sponsored by UAPD, which protects those jobs. The arbitrator ruled AHS was clearly in violation of the MOU and the statute. The arbitrator then ruled that all of those positions MUST be returned to us! In September 2018, the arbitrator handed down his remedy (see below), outlining that by May 1, 2019, TBH’s contract for staffing PES (milieu and triage) must end, if not sooner (see paragraph #7 of the remedy).  Currently, AHS is in violation of this remedy as they have failed to advertise the new psychiatric rates in violation of paragraph #3 of the remedy as the rates have been approved by AHS’ Board of Trustees.  Our attorneys are now demanding that AHS abide by this remedy. The arbitrator retains jurisdiction to ensure that AHS does not drag its feet. 

The remedy below represents a huge collective effort and victory for UAPD against the contractor, Traditions Behavioral Health.

Multicare Urgent Care – Legacy Bargaining Team Agrees to Historic Contract

February 25, 2019

Facing an increasing media campaign and an imminent picketing demonstration by UAPD, Multicare Health Systems blinked. After 20 months at the bargaining table, one issue became the sticking point—the urgent care closing policy. Urgent Care doctors and providers wanted to maintain their ability to leave the clinic near the posted closing time. Our tentative agreement essentially preserves this right and will go a long way to prevent burnout and fatigue. In addition to the closing policy there are many other advancements in this first contract—just cause, salary increases with a reduction in total shifts, a new grievance system, to name a few. Legacy bargaining unit members will be voting on this new contract in the coming weeks.

This tentative agreement with Multicare represents the first collective bargaining between a physician and provider union and a private corporate health care organization in the state of Washington and one of the first in the western United States. It will undoubtedly give hope to other doctors and providers who are working as employees without a voice. UAPD has another potential agreement close at hand with Multicare/Auburn Medical center. The next session will be on March 13. We will keep you posted.

Read more about: Featured, News, Washington

MultiCare Providers Stand Together for Patient Safety

January 22, 2019

Hundreds of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners at the Legacy and Indigo urgent care centers and Auburn Medical Center (AMC) in Tacoma, Washington are standing together to protect the health and wellbeing of Tacoma residents, and improve deteriorating working conditions for healthcare providers.

The three units, all members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), have been bargaining with MultiCare, the $2.4 billion-a-year healthcare corporation that owns Legacy, Indigo and AMC, since June 2017, but the company has yet to address the providers’ serious concerns regarding patient care and staff safety. After coming to the table multiple times it’s become clear that MultiCare has not been bargaining in good faith on these issues.

Citing practices that “put profit before patient care,” UAPD members are demanding that the healthcare giant address policies that impact patient care such as staff retention, inadequate staffing levels and consistently overworked staff. These issues have led to astronomical turnover rates, unpredictable facility closures and chronic short staffing. All are contributing factors to what providers see as a declining standard of care in MultiCare facilities.

Providers will be holding MultiCare accountable both at the facilities and in a growing social media campaign

Read more about: Featured, MultiCare

UAPD’s Fifteenth Triennial Convention A Lively Success

November 16, 2018

Last month’s Triennial convention in San Francisco proved to be thought-provoking. Well over a hundred of our members and staff attended the two-day event at the SFO Westin hotel. On Friday morning we were treated to an illuminating documentary on physician suicide entitled Do No Harm. Emmy award-winning filmmaker and director Robyn Symon presented her piece and later answered questions. What followed was a fascinating CME on practitioner burnout. Etiologies and strategies to prevent and reduce burnout were presented and discussed by the panel and audience. We then heard from incoming State Treasurer Fiona Ma about the upcoming California budget and her own philosophy. She pledged to work with UAPD to help fill hundreds of our state vacancies.

During lunch, a panel of three of our reps led a discussion about the roles of stewards in UAPD. Stewards are the backbone of our union. After lunch, we broke out into several working groups in order to brainstorm issues specific to our sectors. Lots of great ideas and best practices were discussed. We later reassembled in the main hall to hear a financial planner talk about the current and future economy and strategies to save and grow money. After a break, we were treated to a rollicking evening reception in the main ballroom with refreshments, music, DJ, and dancing. Lots of fun and camaraderie followed.

The next morning we started the business portion of the convention. We reviewed the minutes of our last Triennial and the current Treasurers report. Despite the negative financial impact of the Janus decision, UAPD remains in positive cash flow. Our Vice Presidents, Drs. Lewis and Farooqi, introduced the newly elected UAPD Board and then we went around the room to introduce each individual attendee. It was a very representative turnout. I then gave the State of the Union address “DBA UAPD”. The gist of the speech is that while pledging our union to excellent service to our members ultimately UAPD must adhere to strict business principles. We must preserve and develop our membership in both older (State, LA)and newer markets (Washington). We must eliminate financial waste in several areas—payroll, legal, meeting and office expenses. We recently consolidated the Oakland and Sacramento office. We are looking to purchase a small permanent office space in LA. To read the entire speech, check out the post here on the UAPD website.

After Executive Director Zegory Williams introduced our staff to membership we heard from AFSCME organizing director Walter Blair and our political director Doug Chiappetta. At our formal luncheon, we presented the Marcus service award to outgoing Treasurer Peter Statti for over 40 years of service. A job well done, Peter! Dr. Victoria Behrman will take over the Treasurer duties going forward. Staff Patricia Hernandez and Doug Chiappetta presented gifts and a declaration by the California Senate to our retiring Executive Director Zegory Williams. Zeg has done a great job for nearly 17 years at UAPD. He will be missed. We finished the convention business by reading, amending and passing several resolutions on state vacancies, hiring practices, pensions, a UAPD app, and single payer. We debated various constitutional amendments for over an hour. The most controversial was the question of a name change for our union. Traditionalists felt that we should keep UAPD as is, while others felt that we should recognize and advertise that we have become more of a health care melting pot of practitioners. We are establishing a committee to explore and finalize all the amendments by years end. All in all the Triennial was a great way to look back at the last term and commit ourselves to grow stronger in the next three years.

Read more about: Featured

The Votes Are In: A New UAPD Board Has Been Elected

September 7, 2018

Your votes have been tallied from last month’s UAPD Board elections and here are the results:

Vice Presidents: Ronald H. Lewis, MD, FACP,  and Mubashir A.Farooqi, MD

County Board Members: Rex L. Cheng, MD,  Victoria A. Behrman, MD, Sandhya Radhakrishnan, Pharm.D, Gary Pedneault, MD, and John A. Uyanne, MD

Those Board seats uncontested include: Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD, PresidentShakalpi Pendurkar, DDS, MPH, Secretary, Peter A. Statti, MD, Treasurer, Milton L. Lorig, MD, JD, Private Practice Sector, State Sector Jeff Nelson, MD, Alex Spinoso, MD and Robert A. Bitonte, MD, JD.

Thanks to all who participated in this triennial democratic exercise of our Union, to those who ran, to those who voted, and to those who have previously served on our Boards. We are a better union for it. I look forward to working with the new Board in the challenges of growing stronger during the post-Janus era. Hope to see you at our upcoming Triennial Convention in San Francisco on October 26th and 27th.

Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD

Join Us For UAPD Happy Hour

September 17, 2018

Beginning tomorrow evening and every third Tuesday of the month, UAPD members can participate in a virtual happy hour. Discuss current events, UAPD news, and legislation. Share travel stories, sports, food and wine tips… and anything else that interests you. The call-in number is (310) 372-7549 and the code is ‘386201’.

 

Read more about: Featured, News

Victory for AHS Doctors! Arbitrator Rules in Favor of UAPD

July 6, 2018

UAPD decisively won at arbitration against Alameda Health System (AHS). Two years ago, AHS contracted out psychiatrists’ jobs in the psychiatric emergency services/triage services to Traditions Behavioral Health (TBH), flagrantly violating both UAPD’s MOU and a California statute, sponsored by UAPD, which protects those jobs. The arbitrator ruled AHS was clearly in violation of the MOU and the statute. The arbitrator then ruled that all of those positions MUST be returned to us! AHS and UAPD need to quickly work out the way to rid PES/Triage of TBH. The arbitrator will retain jurisdiction should AHS drag its feet. Our next task is to bring PES/Triage wages to market, which has been on the table since May 2017, with absolutely no response to date from AHS. Now, AHS will have to respond or face the wrath of the arbitrator.

Special thanks go to all of our bargaining team members, especially Dr. Milton Lorig, MD, JD and Senior Representative Patricia Hernandez, JD. Kudos as well to our legal team and those who testified. Lastly, thanks to out UAPD Lobbyist, Doug Chiappetta, who guided the legislation that helped achieve this victory.