327 UCSF-Fresno physicians form union

Three hundred twenty-seven University of California-Fresno resident and fellow physicians have joined the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU, according to a union statement. 

The union was certified by the California Public Employment Relations Board Aug. 13 to represent the physicians, who are employed by UCSF-Fresno and primarily work at Community Regional Medical Center, a UCSF-Fresno affiliate hospital and part of Community Medical Centers. 

The union cited concerns about student debt, reductions in residency slots and an evolving healthcare landscape as contributing factors to their organizing effort. 

"Unionization of the resident and fellow physicians at UCSF-Fresno is a monumental step toward protecting one of the Central Valley's most valuable resources, our healthcare," Christopher Robles, MD, a fourth-year psychiatry resident, said in a news release. "We often counsel our patients to actively participate in their care and take ownership of their decisions, which we know can lead to better health outcomes, independence, satisfaction and a sense of being appreciated. This is what unionization means for our physicians. It is a platform for a louder voice to advocate for ourselves and the people who depend on us."

The UCSF-Fresno physicians will join more than 6,000 resident physicians from nearly every other University of California residency program, who are represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, according to the union. 

Brandy Nikaido, a spokesperson for UCSF-Fresno, said in a statement to The Bee that UCSF-Fresno values the physicians and and "look[s] forward to working with them, as we address the continued need for investment in high-quality training for the future physicians of our region."

Tom Utecht, MD, chief medical officer for Community Medical Centers, said in a statement to The Bee contract negotiations don't directly involve Community Medical Centers, but "it is important to recognize that residency and fellowship are times of concentrated learning and growth, challenging in the best of times and exponentially more so over the last 18 months."

Nationwide, the union represents more than 20,000 resident physicians and fellows.

Read The Bee's full report here

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