600 UMass physician residents, fellows unionize

University of Massachusetts physicians in training in Worcester have voted to join the Service Employees International Union's Committee of Interns and Residents, according to the Worcester Business Journal.

The March 2 vote covers 600 residents and fellows.

It comes amid concerns about the ability to weigh in on decisions regarding working conditions and patient safety and care, the union said, according to the publication. Other concerns cited include student debt and increased costs of living.

"Helping to organize a union at UC Davis [in California] was one of my proudest accomplishments," Lauren Jansen, MD, a resident at UMass, said, according to the Boston Business Journal. "When I came to UMass for additional training, I knew I wanted to help organize a union here too. We work hard for our hospital and our patients, and we deserve to have a seat at the table. This need for a voice has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic but has been present all along."

Now that residents and fellows have voted to unionize, they will negotiate a contract that addresses pay and benefits. 

In a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review, UMass Medical School said: "Our 600 residents and fellows are valuable members of the health teams and have demonstrated this time and time again, particularly during the challenges of the last year associated with the coronavirus pandemic. As a group, their total compensation and benefits package is competitive compared to peer institutions ... We look forward to productive discussions as the process unfolds with CIR SEIU, the [state] department of labor relations and our residents and fellows."

SEIU's Committee of Interns and Residents also represents physicians in training at CHA Cambridge (Mass.) Hospital and Boston Medical Center.  



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