Thursday, May 12, 2022

Medical residents organize to bargain collectively

Medpage has the story:

Stanford Health Care

"In December 2020, Stanford Health Care rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination plan that excluded nearly all 1,400-plus resident and fellow physicians from eligibility. For the residents and fellows who had been working tirelessly at the frontlines of the pandemic, this was the last straw. In our view, this didn't appear to be a one-time mistake of some algorithm, but a continued pattern of employer neglect and exploitation of our labor. That's when we knew we had to start organizing for real power.

"A little over a year later, on February 22, 2022, we had gathered supermajority support from our co-workers to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR). However, our request for voluntary recognition from Stanford was denied. In the face of potential anti-union tactics from Stanford, we communicated through our own website and tweetorials, re-centering our mission for a meaningful voice and focusing on widespread support, not only from our own residents, but also from our local elected officials and other labor unions.

"The Stanford nurses were some of our biggest supporters -- we shared a need for better working conditions to deliver better patient care. They have been unionized for over 50 years, and their collective strength protected them from being stretched even thinner during the pandemic. ... Despite a tough employer campaign to defeat our union, we won our election 835 to 214 this week.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center

"On March 15, 2022, we officially won our union. While the hospital's efforts did manage to turn a few who had initially supported the union, 72% of our unit voted in favor of CIR in an election where every single resident participated. A 100% turnout rate is unprecedented even in a small program. It speaks volumes to how connected we've become throughout this process. We are in solidarity with house staff everywhere going public, filing for unionization, and taking the next step toward social progress and justice for academic medicine.

"While we don't know where this new movement in resident unionization will ultimately lead, we know we're headed in the right direction. Doctors are people too and we must rehumanize medicine for everyone -- both our patients and the people who make hospitals run.

"Jessie Ge, MD, is a fourth-year urology resident at Stanford Health Care. Rayyan Kamal, MD, is a second-year family medicine resident at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center.


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