The 91 residents at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland ratified a new contract on October 13, 2014, the culmination of 19 months of negotiations with the hospital that included intervention from a federal mediator. When the bargaining stalled, the housestaff took their message to the public, holding press conferences, rallies, and community forums. A Change.org petition urging the hospital to continue negotiations gained over 3,500 signatures.
With the recent affiliation between UCSF and Children’s Hospital Oakland and a $50 million donation from the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, the residents had begun to question the hospital’s investment in its physician workforce given its stubborn hard line in negotiations. A local news article asked whether the physicians and patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland were receiving equal resources to the doctors and patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.
Despite the turnover of two classes of residents since the negotiations began, the residents at Children’s Hospital Oakland remained united and forged relationships with the Alameda Labor Council, local elected officials, and community organizations.
Residents held multiple meetings with elected officials and enlisted them in holding the hospital accountable. The hospital’s CEO received calls and letters from dozens of elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, members of Congress and the State Legislature, as well as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
The bargaining committee also received strong support from the other unions in the hospital, with leaders from the California Nurses Association speaking at press conferences and rallies.
CIR leaders and staff made sure the union was visible at high profile events sponsored by the hospital, giving out leaflets at a cocktail fundraiser, a triathlon and other functions.
Ultimately, that unity and hard work resulted in a contract providing new gains for the residents and opportunities to strengthen patient care. The new contract, which will last through May 2016, provides a conract-signing bonus of $500 per resident and doubles the education allowance, bringing it to $1000 for PGY 1s, $1100 for PGY 2s, and $1,200 for PGY 3s. It also provides a $750 subsidy to third year residents to help cover the cost of board exams.
The hospital also agreed to establish procedures to give residents access to a Patient Care Fund, which currently has $93,000, for residents to apply for discharge medications and equipment to meet the needs of their patients. For several years, residents have been raising money to support their own fund.
“It has been a difficult journey, but my fellow co-workers and I have certainly gained an understanding of the bargaining process and the importance of standing together,” said Dr. Ana Liang, a third year resident and member of the CIR bargaining committee. “With the ratification of this new contract, I hope we continue to build upon our strengths as a residency program and as an institution bringing world class care to the children of Oakland.”