Mass General Brigham physicians look to unionize

Medical residents and fellows at Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham are preparing to organize a housestaff union.

In a Twitter announcement March 9, they said they are "working to build collective power to advocate for a just, safe and equitable MGB for all housestaff, workers and patients." Among their concerns are a need for a living wage, adequate benefits and compensation commensurate with the cost of living in Boston, and financial support or subsidized child care for housestaff with children.

If housestaff unionize, more than 2,500 residents and fellows at MGB hospitals would join the Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union, according to The Boston Globe. This includes trainees at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Salem Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston.

The unionization would create one of the largest unions of medical residents and fellows in the U.S., The Boston Globe reported.

Organizers said they hope to file paperwork and hold an election to vote on unionization by June, according to the newspaper.

MGB has emphasized its preference to work directly with housestaff.

Paul Anderson, MD, PhD, interim chief academic officer for MGB, shared the following statement with Becker's: "Mass General Brigham is home to some of the top-ranked and highest-paid residency programs in the country. We promise an outstanding educational environment that balances clinical service and learning, and provides well-rounded support to ensure a meaningful experience, professionally and personally, to these highly valued members of our community. Though healthcare is facing unprecedented challenges, Mass General Brigham remains committed to the lifelong advancement of our medical trainees and working directly together to continuously improve our educational programs."

The effort at MGB comes as hospitals and health systems have faced heightened union activity in recent years, most of which has involved nurses and other healthcare professionals. Physicians have also been involved in union-related activities, including efforts toward representation at the bargaining table. Representatives from CIR-SEIU told the Globe membership has increased by more than 50 percent since 2020.

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