Penn Medicine physicians vote to unionize

Resident and fellow physicians at Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine have voted to join the Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union.

Voting took place May 3-5, and votes were tallied May 8, according to a notice of election from the National Labor Relations Board.

Eighty-eight percent of voting physicians voted in favor of unionization, the Committee of Interns and Residents said in a news release shared with Becker's. The results have not been certified by the NLRB. If results are certified, about 1,400 residents and fellows will negotiate their first contract with Penn Medicine, which comprises University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

"At the end of the day, the prestige of working at a nationally ranked hospital like Penn isn't enough to ensure our patients receive top quality care, to meet our basic needs or to address the deeper inequities of our healthcare system," Madison Sharp, MD, a third-year OB-GYN resident, said in the union release. "Winning representation is a huge step toward addressing these issues and raising care standards for all of us."

Penn Medicine physicians initially launched their unionization push in February. Physicians contend they have struggled for months to advocate to hospital management for improvements to their working conditions and patient care without success. Pay and workloads are among the issues they seek to address.

A Penn Medicine spokesperson shared the following statement with Becker's: "We are proud of Penn Medicine's long history as home to many top residency and fellowship programs, and we have appreciated the ongoing opportunity to hear directly from residents about their concerns during this unionization campaign. We have an obligation to stay true to our shared goals to provide the very best care to our patients, and to ensure that new physicians are able to train in an environment that allows them resources to flourish academically, professionally and personally.

"We respect our trainees' collective decision and remain committed to continuing our work to improve their training experience and ensure that they are fully supported during these transformative years of their medical careers."

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