The county supes are starting to sound just like Arnold, they’re blaming all healthcare problems and shortages on the “special interests:” nurses, housekeepers, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, radiology technicians and their unions. They all parrot the sheriff’s mantra “ the problem with the medical center is that the unions have too much power.” What does that mean? If the unions and the employees had any clout or power they would fix the medical center’s billing department. Many supervisors refuse to meet with union representatives and hospital employees, the Grand Jury and consultants’ slander them, they have little or no access to the hospital authority board and the sheriffs outnumber and intimidate them at all public meetings.
So, why do county supervisors keep blaming everything from world hunger to the rising cost of pharmaceuticals on the healthcare unions? Well, it’s a bad budget year and they’re looking for easy money. You break a few unions, contract out a few services, and dump people off those county pensions, you cash in. Then the supes reap the added benefit of giving fat contracts to big campaign donors. Union busting for fun and profit, it’s not very original.
So the hospital authority is leading the charge, impervious to reason, due process and bad press. They forged ahead and contracted out the entire psychiatry staff. They were so eager to attack a union that they didn’t bother with the necessary negotiating steps or even the price tag. The authority board’s contract actually increases the cost of services, but the private contractor has lots of political suction, she makes regular thousand-dollar donations to county supervisors and initiative campaigns. The private contractor gets a huge return on investment, the supervisors get to bust a union and the medical center gets a bigger bill for the same services, and a costly lawsuit. It’s just the kind of lose lose deal the hospital authority board has become famous for.