LA physicians vote to authorize strike

Front-line resident physicians and fellows at three Los Angeles County hospitals have voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike, according to the union that represents them.

The Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union, represents more than 22,000 resident physicians and fellows in the U.S. This includes more than 1,300 at LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center, according to ABC affiliate KABC.

The strike authorization vote does not mean a strike will occur. However, 99 percent of voting members voted in favor of striking if necessary, according to a May 31 news release.

"The results of our vote show how committed we are across our hospitals and across our departments to taking this next step if we need to," Mahima Iyengar, MD, a first-year internal medicine-pediatrics resident at LAC+USC Medical Center and a Committee of Interns and Residents regional vice president, said in the release. "This is a mandate and we got it because all of us understand that this is ultimately about wanting to give everything to the communities we serve and ensuring we have what we need outside of work to focus completely on patient care when we're in the hospital."

The physicians at LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center are currently working under an expired labor deal. Their union said they are seeking a new contract that provides the wages and other resources they need to care for their patients and their own families amid inflation and the pandemic.

A statement shared with Becker's on behalf of Los Angeles County said: "Negotiations are ongoing, and the county remains hopeful of reaching a fair and fiscally responsible contract with our labor partners. Today's authorization vote by the Committee of Interns and Residents is not a strike, and services to the public are continuing without interruption." 

If a strike occurs, the Los Angeles County physicians would be the first members of their resident physicians union to strike in 32 years, according to the union. 

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