The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to eliminate 31 dentist jobs early next year.
The State Worker learned of the decision from this notice to members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and confirmed it with CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton.
The target date for the layoffs is Jan. 14. A total of 93 notices went out last month. Corrections has 294 prison dentists on staff.
While the UAPD note says that layoff warning notices went out, it doesn't mention that the department is going to hire dental hygienists to perform the routine cleanings and examinations. "We currently have just two hygienists in the entire system," Thornton said.
At $15,183 per month, a CDCR dentist earns more than three times the $4,763 hygienist monthly wage. The department plans to hire enough of the lower-salaried professionals to get the ratio down to 2000 inmates per each hygienist -- roughly two hygienists per dentist. That will free up prison dentists to focus on higher-level dental care.
Thornton said that the courts have signed off on the plan.
UAPD is one of six unions that reached new labor agreements with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last summer. The deal, which shields members from furloughs and minimum wage in exchange for pay and benefits concessions, doesn't include layoff protections.