ChristianaCare physicians seek unionization

Physicians at ChristianaCare in Delaware have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to vote on joining the Doctors Council, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Two-thirds of the more than 400 staff physicians at the organization's Christiana Hospital in Newark, Wilmington (Del.) Hospital, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and the Middletown (Del.) stand-alone emergency care center signed union authorization cards seeking an election, which were submitted to the NLRB on May 14, union organizers said, according to WHYY News

The NLRB provides various paths to forming a union. According to the labor board's website, the NLRB will conduct an election if at least 30% of workers sign cards or a petition indicating their support for unionization. Workers would then vote on whether to unionize. If physicians vote to unionize, the union would be the first in ChristianaCare's 136-year history, according to WHYY News.

Ragu Sanjeev, MD, a ChristianaCare internist and leader in the unionization effort, told the media outlet that he and his colleagues seek to address concerns about staffing in a post-pandemic environment.

"We have still not been able to staff up enough to where us physicians can get back to just focusing on taking care of patients," Dr. Sanjeev said, according to WHYY News. "We all went to med school to primarily take good care of patients and keeping them healthy and getting them better once they get into the hospital, especially when they are at their sickest. And because of the hospital's mismanagement of its employees, especially physicians, a lot of good doctors [who are] well-respected in the community have been leaving.

"There has not been a concerted effort, and even if they tried, they have not been able to recruit enough. However, the bleeding continues, which means people that are still here end up  getting overworked even more. So basically we're trying to fix all that."

A ChristianaCare spokesperson shared the following statement with Becker's: "At ChristianaCare, we are proud of our physicians, who deliver world-class care while serving our patients and our community with love and excellence. We believe that continuing to have a direct relationship with physicians is an essential component of our continued shared success. We have received the petition from Doctors Council SEIU Local 10 MD and recognize the right of all employees to vote on whether or not they want a union to represent them."

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