Residents and fellow physicians at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles have voted to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents/Service Employees International Union (CIR/SEIU), following in the footsteps of those at Stanford Health Care, who voted last week.
The physicians-in-training at Keck unanimously voted in favor of union representation, Becker’s Hospital Review reported, citing a CIR/SEIU release shared with the outlet. The vote follows a campaign focused on living wages and representation in the workplace.
“Every day, my peers and I risk our lives to serve our community and ensure that our patients are getting the best quality care we can provide,” Eduardo Fernandez, MD, a fellow in hematology and medical oncology, stated in the release, according to Becker’s. “With a seat at the table, we will advocate for the support that residents and patients alike deserve.”
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the University of Southern California wrote, “We support the rights of our employees to choose whether they want to join a union. We appreciate the residents’ decision and greatly value their partnership in delivering quality health care to patients across Los Angeles County.”
The results will need to be certified and finalized by the National Labor Relations Board.
A spokesperson for CIR/SEIU recently told MedPage Today that the residents and fellows at Stanford Health Care hoped that their vote to unionize would help to improve patient safety and working conditions, and provide a seat at the table when it comes to issues like disability equity, parental leave, and expanded access to wellness funds.
A resident-led protest of Stanford’s initial COVID-19 vaccination plan, which originally left out many frontline workers, was a driving factor in that vote. The CIR/SEIU spokesperson said that the vote was also inspired and supported by regional CIR workshops and a recent increase in organizing efforts.
Other groups are also demanding change. CIR/SEIU announced this week that more than 1,300 residents and fellows at Los Angeles County’s LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center are likely to join tens of thousands of other county workers in striking for a fair contract, specifically livable pay and benefits.
The strike authorization voting will begin May 16 and end on May 31, CIR/SEIU said in a statement.
CIR/SEIU represents more than 20,000 interns, residents, and fellows in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.