The resident physicians at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, CA have ratified a new two-year contract that provides a 15 percent, across-the-board salary increase, a one-time travel reimbursement of up to $1,500 for an education conference, and quarterly labor-management meetings.
The contract was settled days after the residents held a letter-writing campaign and rally urging Kern County officials to come to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair agreement.
“Bakersfield deserves well-rounded physicians,” said Dr. Sarah Assem, an internal medicine resident and CIR delegate. “They deserve for the competitive residents to come to KMC and then to stay here and open up their own primary care practices, because in the end, that’s the goal of having a residency.”
Over 80 people, the majority interns and residents, attended the June 4 rally and press conference in front of the hospital. The campaign garnered media attention after CIR leaders presented research showing that Kern County residents were the lowest paid in the country, with interns starting at $40,500 a year.
The nurses’ union, SEIU 521, also put pressure on the county to negotiate decent wages for the residents. “When I heard that our physicians-in-training are the lowest paid in the nation, I was appalled,” wrote Carmen Morales, a nurse practitioner and Vice President of Local 521, in an op-ed. “I value their strong work ethic and consider them to be steadfast teammates at KMC. Kern County faces a physician shortage, and residency serves as the best recruiting tool for bringing high caliber doctors to the region.”
The new contract took effect July 1, 2013.