Los Angeles County Supervisors Cut ‘Megaflex’ Benefits from Doctors’ Contract
Unionized doctors working for Los Angeles County will lose their "megaflex" benefits under a contract package approved yesterday by the county Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports. With the "megaflex" benefit, workers receive a cash bonus that can be used to "boost their pensions," buy benefits or be pocketed. In some cases, the benefit is worth more than $19,000. However, as the benefit has "historically" been available only to nonunion county employees, the board voted to cut it from the benefit package offered to doctors. The Times reports that two years ago the doctors voted to unionize, despite warnings from the county that they would lose the "lucrative benefit package." The union, however, said the cut is "illegal retaliation for unionizing" and an attempt by the county to "kill the union." The union successfully fought the move in arbitration but that "proceeding was not binding." Union officials said they will file a lawsuit to challenge the contract. Also, the union has filed a complaint with the county's Employee Relations Commission and is backing a measure in the state Legislature that would require the issue to be settled by binding arbitration. Supervisor Yvonne Burke said, "It was made clear by the county of L.A. ... that we have one plan for represented (employees) and one plan for non-represented. If [the union] didn't disclose that to their members, then they certainly made some misrepresentation." The Times reports that at some county hospitals, doctors who want to leave the union are circulating "decertification petitions" (Riccardi/Larrubia, Los Angeles Times, 8/8).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.