Latest Contract Victories Around the Country

CIR Southern California Regional Vice Priesident Dr. Joanne Suh with CHMC Bargaining Committee members, Drs. Aminah Cherry, Joseph Shadpour, Michael Downing, and Liz Ortega

CIR Southern California Regional Vice Priesident Dr. Joanne Suh with CHMC Bargaining Committee members, Drs. Aminah Cherry, Joseph Shadpour, Michael Downing, and Liz Ortega

California Hospital Medical
Center, Los Angeles, CA
Residents at California Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) negotiated a first contract that included salary increases for all PGYs and prioritized patient care and quality improvement. The hospital is part of a chain owned by Dignity Health.

“The relationship between CIR and administration at CHMC is one that has the potential to continue to flourish. It’s clear that administration understands the importance of labor relations at their hospitals,” said Dr. Joseph Shadpour, PGY 2 and bargaining committee member. Equally important to residents was a commitment from the hospital to schedule regular labor-management meetings that address any ongoing issues. Other wins include: laundering of white coats, additional pay for chief residents and an additional call room in the main hospital. The contract also memorialized the meal, education and retreat benefits, and set up a $12,000 per year fund for resident-led quality improvement projects.

Not only did the residents win their first negotiated contract, the leadership committee also grew into a strong team,  ready to take on the challenges of their hospital. Dr. Joseph Shadpour provided a few tips for negotiating successfully:

1. Recruit a diverse team to the bargaining committee to ensure that a variety of issues are addressed—including gender, ethnic, racial and religious background. “Having a strong team of residents from different backgrounds makes it more feasible for reaching a mutually agreed upon contract.”
2. Don’t give up. Even though negotiations might be tough it’s important that residents stay united and demand respect at their jobs and better care for their patients. “Keep going. See what’s realistic, and that will help you feel better and be able to meet administration in the middle.”
3. Last but not least, ask for what you want. “Whether it’s your first contract or your fifth, residents won’t be able to make the changes they want without taking the first step.”

Hoboken University Medical
Center, Hoboken, NJ
Hoboken residents ratified a new three-year contract after just two months of negotiations.

“It was important that the administration negotiate based on the rising costs of living in Hoboken,” said Dr. Christina Perez, PGY 3 and chief of the family medicine department. “As training physicians, we also recognize the need to incorporate technology into our practice, and were able to expand the scope of our education fund to include tablets, computer programs, and other new technologies that can help us treat and relate to our patients better.” In addition to increases in the education fund, residents also won salary increases for the next three years of their contract.

St. Barnabas Hospital,
Bronx, NY
Didactics are important for any residency program, and members at St. Barnabas Hospital now have access to even more opportunities, having bargained and won their first educational allowance. While it was a bumpy road at times, leaders at St. Barnabas recognized that by having every single department represented on their team, they were able to build strong relationships across programs, engaging their colleagues in the union more effectively.

In a nearly unanimous vote, housestaff approved a new contract bringing salary increases, a commitment from management to host regular multi-stakeholder meetings to identify more opportunities to improve didactics and address out-of-title work, increases in meal benefits, a new annual professional education fund, and new provisions for holiday pay.

Leaders at St. Barnabas Hospital provided some key recomendations for making the most of contract negotiations:
1. Leaders should ensure that bargaining meetings are well attended.
2. Leaders should commit to bringing back information from their sessions to their departments and vice versa, bringing issues their department experiences to the larger group.
3. Leaders have a responsibility to engage their colleagues in the voting and ratification process.
“It’s so important that residents not only talk about the changes they want to see in their residency programs, but take active steps to see the changes happen. Voting is a large part of the process. It’s the way the larger resident body gets their voice heard,” said bargaining committee member Dr. Brian Steele, a dental anesthesia resident.
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