1,600 physicians at New York, California systems file petitions to unionize

Physicians at a New York health system and a California system each filed petitions this month with the National Labor Relations Board to form a union with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.

A combined 1,600 physicians from Loma Linda (Calif.) University Health and the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) argue that their ability to provide quality care is suffering amid burnout caused by poor working conditions, low wages, excessive workloads and unaddressed mental health needs, the UAPD said in a Feb. 24 news release. 

"How can anyone expect good quality care when these two health systems show no concern for their own providers," said Stuart Bussey, MD, president of the union. "This has got to change."

About 800 physicians at each system voiced similar concerns. Both came under intense pressure during the height of the pandemic and emergency room patient volumes continue to run high, according to the report. The physicians argue that health systems continue to layer additional demands on them as they work in difficult conditions.

"Loma Linda University Health respects the rights and opinions of all our team members, which include medical residents and fellows who may want union representation and those who do not," a spokesperson for the system told Becker's. "We are committed to listening and advocating for our residents as we continue to provide a world-class educational experience that will prepare them for the next steps in their careers."

A spokesperson for the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences told The Buffalo News that it is "continuing to work with our trainees to ensure they have a first-class learning environment and are compensated fairly and competitively."

Union activity has increased among physicians and nurses throughout the pandemic as they seek greater hospital investments in working conditions, staffing and other resources to support patient care. Meanwhile, hospitals and health systems continue to reinforce their commitment to quality care during a challenging healthcare period.

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