PHYSICIAN UNIONIZATION: Florida Docs May Give Blessing
The Florida Medical Association could "become the first statewide doctor group to endorse an AFL-CIO affiliated union" if the group's governing body approves the move at its annual meeting this month, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports. A source from the FMA "said language endorsing the Office and Professional Employees International Union will go before the 438-member FMA House of Delegates for a vote" on May 16. The exact wording of the resolution remains "unclear," and the Business Journal notes that if it is approved, "a decision to join a union would be for individual doctors -- not the FMA -- to make." The FMA source said, "We're not going in to strike, and we are not able to collectively bargain, at least until the law is changed. We want to do this strictly to deal with the managed care industry, to protect the quality of the health care system."
The Business Journal reports that an FMA "committee was formed months ago to look into unions." The panel, led by FMA President-elect Dr. Glenn Bryan, "met in January in Orlando with representatives" of the Office and Professional Employees Union, along with officials of the New York-based Union of Salaried Physicians and Dentists, the California-based Union of American Physicians and Dentists and the Tallahassee-based Federation of Physicians and Dentists. According to the FMA source, a "'strong majority' of the FMA board of governors' 22 voting members recently opted to place the union resolution" before the FMA delegates. The Business Journal notes that the OPEU "had recent success" with the decision earlier this year by 2,100 Nassau and Suffolk County, NY, doctors to affiliate with the union. The OPEU is known for its "reputation for aggressive organizing among physicians."
Congress To The Rescue?
The FMA source said "at least once congressman plans to file federal legislation to make it easier for non-employed physicians to bargain collectively." The Business Journal notes that both the FMA and the American Medical Association have approved resolutions calling for an end to laws that prevent doctors from forming "negotiating units." This position was driven by a joint Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission ruling that "joint negotiating by non-employee doctors ... violates federal antitrust law" (Shepherd, 5/4 issue).