Highland Wins a Housing Stipend and More

highland-3Oakland, CA – Highland Hospital residents voted unanimously in favor of a new union contract on Wednesday, December 21, 2016. This contract introduces a housing stipend, which has recently become a trend in other CIR hospitals in California, amid high rents and cost of living. Four additional CIR contracts contain housing stipends: Children’s Hospital in Oakland, St. Mary’s in San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General, and UC Irvine Medical Center. Residents are fighting for higher pay and/or housing assistance as California faces skyrocketing rents. These housing stipends allow the hospitals to remain competitive and desirable to future residents.

Residents were proud to ratify one of the best contracts negotiated in recent years, in terms of economic gains. It really speaks to the challenges of recruiting professionals to work in the Bay Area. Highland residents have been unionized since 1990, and membership has consistently been near 100 percent, giving residents a lot of power to negotiate fair contracts over the years.

At a time when healthcare workers across the nation are struggling to maintain their salaries and benefits, Highland resident physicians came away with a contract that not only preserves their benefits, but provides significant increases, including a $3,000 housing allowance and an increase of $2,000 for their diversity fund.

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Here are some of the highlights of our new contract between Highland Hospital and CIR:

Starting December 1, 2016, first-year residents get a 3.5 percent increase; PGY 2-4 residents get a 3 percent increase, raising the starting salary to $59,000 a year. Starting December 1, 2017, first-year residents will receive a 3.25 percent increase; others will receive a 2.75 percent increase.

All residents will now receive an annual housing stipend of $3,000 a year beginning July 2017, and the resident-run diversity fund has increased from $12,000 to $14,000. The diversity fund and is used to send residents to conferences such as Transgender Health Summit at UCSF, the Latino Medical Association, the Asian Pacific American Medical Association, Women in Medicine, and the Student Medical National Medical Association, along with other measures to recruit physicians of color into the residency program.

New to this contract is a Step III reimbursement, which will reimburse residents the $845 cost of the exam. The resident-run Patient Care Fund has been renewed through 2017 and includes $20,000 set aside for Quality Improvement initiatives. During the bargaining process, residents collected hundreds of signatures on two petitions: advocating for fair treatment during negotiations, and demanding contract language to protect access to workspace and essential equipment. Residents also testified at the December Board of Trustees meeting and fought hard for wage increases and the housing stipend. We want to congratulate the Highland Bargaining Committee on expertly negotiating such a strong contract.

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The Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU, a local of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), represents more than 17,000 interns, residents, and fellows in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, D.C.

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