UVM Medical Center resident physicians seek unionization, better pay

Resident physicians at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington seek to form a local chapter with the Committee of Interns and Residents, according to union and hospital statements.

The union announced the effort March 3, citing staffing shortages, extreme physician burnout, cost of living and lack of adequate workspaces. The workers are asking for better pay as well as increased efforts to protect patient care and workplace safety.

"I love my job, and I love taking care of patients. I have studied for years to get to where I am, but as a resident physician some weeks I make less than minimum wage. We are locked into our contracts with no power to negotiate. It's hard to take care of patients when you are worried about making ends meet," Becca Merrifox, MD, said in a news release. "A supermajority of us support unionizing; UVM should do the right thing and recognize us."

In a statement shared with Becker's, the University of Vermont Medical Center emphasized its commitment to a respectful and supportive workplace culture.

"As a premier teaching hospital, we are proud of our residents who have delivered exceptional patient care throughout the pandemic," the statement said.

Hospital officials said they respect the right of residents to decide whether they want to unionize.

Although the officials have expressed to the union that they would not voluntarily recognize the union, they said they have encouraged the union to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board so a due process vote can occur.

UVM Medical Center resident physicians seek unionization amid similar efforts at other healthcare organizations, including Stanford (Calif.) Health Care

The Committee of Interns and Residents is a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. The union represents more than 20,000 resident physicians and fellows, including University of Massachusetts physicians in training, who unionized in March 2021. 

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