On April 11, CFA filed a second Unfair Practice Charge with the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) against the CSU administration over its unlawful decision to contract out counseling services.
Sacramento State entered into a contract with TimelyMD to perform mental health counseling work that has been and is performed by counselors represented by CFA. Many counseling professionals think of TimelyMD as the “Uberization” of counseling, making this faculty work a gig/tech job to the detriment of students and the profession. The CSU administration is not permitted to “gig” out faculty work and deprive employees of their right to be in the bargaining unit, and CFA is asking PERB to order the CSU to cease its contract with TimelyMD, to make any affected employees whole, and to provide CFA the opportunity to bargain over any contracting out decisions.
CFA looks forward to scrutinizing the contracts and reporting to members on the cost, and how much Timely MD stands to make on the backs of counselors providing much-needed services for the CSU.
This administrative move to privatize public work is especially galling given the CSU’s rejection of CFA bargaining proposals to increase faculty-to-student ratios to acceptable standards to better serve students. All counselors currently in the Counseling Center at Sacramento are on temporary appointments. At Sacramento, the Counseling Center has not hired a permanent counselor in almost 20 years and its last tenured mental health counselor left the university in 2017. It is not surprising that the administration is now trying to eliminate even temporary and part-time employment for counselors who provide mental health assistance to students in the CSU.
“It is something that we have all seen before – starve a public resource and replace it with a profit-making alternative for more money in the hands of corporate owners and few rights for workers and students who need and deserve quality higher education and the resources like counseling,” said Alexa D. Sardina, CFA Sacramento faculty rights co-chair and Sacramento State criminal justice professor.
As we reported a few weeks ago, Timely MD is a company that hires medical professionals who are paid for appointments/sessions and never have an employment or collegial relationship with any campus. We understand that TimelyMD has been aggressively courting colleges and universities to take over healthcare and mental health services that would otherwise be provided directly by campuses and their employees.
Sacramento State administrators failed to notify CFA of its move to privatize counseling work. When we learned of the contract with Timely MD, we demanded to meet and confer over the decision, as required by law. Following our demand, and after CFA filed a PERB charge over a similar situation at Cal Poly Humboldt, the Sacramento administration sent a bizarre “notice” about the plan as though CFA hasn’t already had to protect our members and take legal action. Sacramento State was required to notify CFA before it contracted out. University administration has not rescinded its decision and refuses to utilize CSU-employed counselors in adequate numbers to meet student needs, and we look forward to a favorable resolution of this dispute.