LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Doctors Union Threatens Possible Walkout
Contract negotiations between 800 "newly unionized" Los Angeles County doctors and county officials reached an impasse this week, prompting doctors to consider possible "job actions" at the county's public health clinics, the Los Angeles Times reports. Recently unionized with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, the doctors stand to lose a "lucrative county benefits package" long offered to county doctors and non-unionized county employees. Under the plan, called "flex" or "mega-flex," employees receive money to purchase insurance and "roll any extra cash into their paychecks or pension." But the county is considering dropping the doctors from the plan and adding them to the standard benefits package provided to other unionized county workers. If the county proceeds with the plan, the unionized doctors said it could face "a pay cut of as much as $20,000." Donna Singh, the county's acting chief of employee relations, said the policy has been clear "from the beginning." She added, "One would assume the union would have conveyed this information to the employees during their organizing campaign." Some doctors knew and unsuccessfully lobbied against the union, citing the loss of the benefits package. Doctors plan to stage walkouts at county health clinics if an agreement is not reached by the contract's Sept. 30 expiration. However, they indicated that the walkouts "would not interfere with the operations of the county's six hospitals." County health officials said they do not expect any "serious problems" should a walkout take place (Riccardi, 8/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.