On National Doctors Day, Santa Clara County Doctors Plan Strike

Mar 27, 2014, 13:54 ET from Union of American Physicians and Dentists

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Some doctors in Santa Clara County will spend National Doctors' Day (March 30) organizing for a strike against their employer.

In mid-March, doctors represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) voted overwhelmingly in favor of going on strike against Santa Clara County.  After two subsequent meetings with management failed to resolve open negotiating issues, doctors set a strike date of April 7, 2014.  About 60 doctors, who work primarily in the County's Mental Health Department, have been without a contract since October 2013.

Santa Clara doctors have expressed concern about an increase in the use of seclusion and restraint in County facilities.  They are looking for contract language to address that patient safety issue.

Another conflict in these negotiations is that the County has begun demanding that doctors work evening and weekend hours.  "Many doctors here have obligations that make night and weekend work impossible.  Suddenly they are being told they have to show up for nighttime shifts or risk being fired," explained Dr. Jan Weber, a child psychiatrist who sits on the UAPD Negotiating Team.    

There is also evidence that Santa Clara County wants to eliminate its staff of doctors entirely.  "They consistently underpay this group of psychiatrists, to the point that they can't find people to do the work that needs to be done.  And then residents of the County go without critical mental health services," said Patricia Hernandez, a UAPD Senior Labor Representative who is negotiating the contract.  Earlier this year the Union thwarted the County's efforts to outsource a large number of physician jobs to a private company that pays its contractors a higher rate than the County pays its doctors.

The April 7th action will be the first doctors' strike in California in decades.  "It takes a lot of frustration to cause doctors to walk away from their jobs," said UAPD President Dr. Stuart A. Bussey.  "But Santa Clara County has pushed these people too far." 

SOURCE Union of American Physicians and Dentists