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UAPD Members Overwhelming Vote to Strike to Save Healthcare System


Los Angeles, CA – After a two-week voting period that concluded on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, and veterinarians working in the LA County departments of Health Services, Mental Health, Coroner-Medical Examiner, Fire, Public Health, and Animal Care and Control, have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if determined necessary by their Union’s negotiating committee. The date and duration of the strike has not been announced.


“I voted to strike because our well-intentioned providers are breaking down. We are overwhelmed with high workloads yet we keep getting new patients. We can't recruit new doctors and are losing the ones we have; meanwhile, our patients are falling between the cracks. We urge LA County to listen to its physicians so we are able to provide the care we were trained to give,” said Dr. Jennifer Elizondo, DHS Family Practice.


“With a 70% vacancy rate of psychiatrists in the County jails, we cannot provide adequate care to inmates with unmet medical and psychiatric needs. I am willing to strike to be sure that this changes. Better benefits and pay are needed for the County to be a competitive employer so they can retain and recruit staff,” said Dr. Gary Pedneault, Psychiatrist, CRDF – Women’s Detention Facility.


Click here to watch a video with additional statements from UAPD members.


The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) has been engaged in contract talks with the County of Los Angeles since 2021. Their collective bargaining agreement expired on September 30, 2021, and after over two years of negotiations, the members have voted to authorize a historic strike.


The primary focus of these protracted negotiations revolves around the critical issue of recruiting and retaining employees under UAPD representation. Numerous County departments that employ medical professionals are grappling with vacancy rates exceeding 50 percent, and in LA County jails, where psychiatrists are urgently needed, the vacancy rate has reached 70 percent. This recruitment and retention challenge is largely due to the requirement that UAPD members participate in the County’s benefits package that is tailored for rank-and-file workers.


To be competitive as a healthcare employer, the County must consider allowing its physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, and other advanced degree healthcare professionals to participate in a benefit package that would be competitive with other employers in the region, specifically the MegaFlex plan – a proposal that represents just a 0.04% increase in the County’s $46.7 Billion budget.


Furthermore, attracting and retaining female staff, especially those entering the workforce after training, is increasingly difficult due to the County's lack of participation in the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program and its absence of supplemental disability insurance for family planning. This absence puts female physicians at a disadvantage compared to private hospitals in the area, which often offer SDI and supplemental disability insurance. UAPD members are calling for changes in this policy, emphasizing that it is essential for both UAPD members and the residents of Los Angeles who depend on these healthcare services.


The UAPD members are urging the County to prioritize these negotiations, ensuring a resolution is reached promptly, to avoid potential labor withdrawal through a work stoppage, which could have significant repercussions on medical services provided in the hospitals, jails, juvenile facilities, and beyond.


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