CIR members “collectively bargain” or negotiate with their employers over concerns that are most pressing to residents. The CIR contract (also called a “collective bargaining agreement”) is a legally binding document between the hospital and the housestaff that provides language that ensures fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Elements of the Contract
CIR contracts address a full range of resident concerns. Contracts at CIR hospitals vary depending on needs of the housestaff in each hospital, but some common contract provisions include:
- Salaries and Benefits: This includes provisions like minimizing health insurance premiums, book stipends, and conference allowances
- Working Conditions: Examples include regular cleaning of call rooms, providing lockers, and the number of scrubs residents get per year.
- Articles that Strengthen the Union: For example, a clause may state that the hospital officially recognizes the housestaff union and also outlines the hospital’s obligations to residents should it decide to close a program.
Want to know what’s in a CIR contract? Read samples of actual contract language in different CIR collective bargaining agreements.
The Contract in Action
The contract provides a strong foundation for the housestaff union. CIR members have several tools at their disposal to build on that foundation and ensure that the union remains vibrant, that the contract is followed, and that housestaff voices are heard.
- Labor Management Meetings: Regular meetings between residents and the hospital management during which housestaff can bring items to the attention of hospital administrators, clarify items in the contract, or address concerns between contract negotiation cycles.
- Grievances: Each contract outlines a grievance procedure to remedy situations in which the contract isn’t being followed.
- Representation: Every CIR chapter elects delegates to represent the housestaff within the hospital and to CIR nationally. Also, each hospital has the support of a CIR staff member and a national team of staff to support activities the housestaff wish to initiate.
The Bargaining Process
Negotiations are very different from hospital meetings you may have attended before. The collective bargaining is a give and take process and compromise is the name of the game. In the end, we must reach a settlement that is mutually acceptable to both the union and the hospital administration. The most important things to know about negotiating a strong contract are:
- Preparation: We survey all of our members to understand what the priorities are for all housestaff and we do research to understand the hospital’s finances and priorities.
- Engagement: Housestaff must attend or stay informed of the contract negotiations and provide feedback.
- Discipline: The CIR negotiation team is made up of representatives from all departments, but we work together to get the best contract for ALL members, not just those in our department.
- An understanding of the true nature of the negotiation process: It’s a power struggle.
Once a settlement has been reached, the housestaff must ratify the contract in order for it be implemented. Once ratified, the contract goes into effect immediately.