UCSF physicians authorize strike

Members of the Committee of Interns and Residents have voted to authorize their union's bargaining committee to call a strike at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland (Calif.).

The union, a local of the Service Employees International Union, represents more than 22,000 resident physicians and fellows in the U.S., according to a Sept. 19 news release shared with Becker's. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland is part of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals and among the region's only safety-net hospitals.

Union members started bargaining with hospital management in March and are working under a deal that expired July 31. They authorized a strike earlier in September with 100 percent of the 97.8 percent of members who participated voting to do so, according to the union release. The vote does not mean a strike will occur but allows the union's bargaining committee to call one.

During negotiations, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland has participated "in bad faith bargaining tactics such as canceling bargaining sessions, delaying wage proposals, coming to the table unprepared, and providing inaccurate information about contract proposal costs," the union contends in the release. The Committee of Interns and Residents said these actions are jeopardizing future recruitment of talented physicians.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, meanwhile, contends the hospital has bargained in good faith. "Our most recent proposal includes increases to the many generous benefits our trainees already receive, including across-the-board wage increases of 6 percent the first year and 4 percent in years two and three, as they pursue the training that is required to prepare for their future roles in medicine," a hospital spokesperson said in a statement shared with Becker's.

The hospital added that it is "hopeful our trainees will return to the bargaining table," and meanwhile is "taking steps to minimize any potential impacts of a work stoppage."

If a strike occurs, it would be the first time Committee of Interns and Residents union members have done so in more than three decades, according to the union.

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