Northwestern U physicians launch unionization push

Resident physicians and fellows at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, which is on the university's Chicago campus, announced Dec. 1 their efforts to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union.

The physicians, who filed with the National Labor Relations Board, are requesting voluntary union recognition from their employer, McGaw; an association of the university's Feinberg School of Medicine; and affiliated urban, suburban, specialized and general hospitals. They say they regularly work more than 80 hours a week and seek improved working conditions and patient care. 

"My colleagues and I are forming this union because, together, we believe that we can help improve our health system," Joseph deBettencourt, MD, a pediatrician in his third year of residency, said in a union news release shared with Becker's. "Over the last few years, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number and complexity of pediatric patients — yet due to inadequate staffing and support systems, we have to sacrifice our well-being to provide the high-quality care our patients receive. By forming a union we can gain the power and support to address these issues and actively improve our work place and the care we provide for our patients."

If successful, the Committee of Interns and Residents would become the bargaining representative for nearly 1,300 interns, residents, chief residents and fellows, according to the NLRB filing.

Nicole Mladic, spokesperson for McGaw, shared the following statement with Becker's: "The McGaw Medical Center has received the petition. We are reviewing it and will respond in due course."

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