Physicians at 4 Sutter Health campuses seek to unionize

Resident physicians at Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health's four San Francisco California Pacific Medical Center locations have signed cards in support of joining the Committee of Interns and Residents, the union confirmed to Becker's Jan. 18.

The union, a local of the Service Employees International Union, said resident physicians have not participated in an official National Labor Relations Board election as they are seeking voluntary recognition by their employer. 

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 percent of workers sign cards or a petition indicating their support for unionization. Workers would then vote on whether to join the union. Employers may also voluntarily recognize a union based on signed union-authorization cards or other evidence.

The Committee of Interns and Residents said there is already a supermajority of support and cards signed by resident physicians. If a union is ultimately formed, 122 resident physicians would be represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents. 

The resident physicians supporting unionization contend they are underpaid and frequently overworked, receiving limited annual sick leave and regularly working 80 hours per week.

"We have seen firsthand that the consequences of burnout are dire," Danielle Golomb, MD, a second-year psychiatry resident, said in a news release. "We came together so we could have a say in our working conditions and be able to provide the best care possible for our patients without unmanageable added stress and financial burden. Everyone can understand the desire for decency and respect in their workplace."

Sutter Health shared the following statement with Becker's: "We believe that working directly with our employees, without the involvement of a labor union, creates the best relationship with our team members as we work together to care for our patients. If employees seek representation by a union, we will respect their right to choose in a secret ballot election, share our perspectives, and hope they will vote to continue working directly with management."

Resident physicians involved in the organizing effort work at Van Ness Campus, Davies Campus, Mission Bernal Campus & Orthopedic Institute, and the Pacific Heights Outpatient Campus.

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