FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2022
Press Contact: Dara Streit
P: (415) 914-5616
With record-high patient volume and lack of support for physician well-being, UVM housestaff join the wave of the recent residency programs to unionize with CIR/SEIU
Burlington, VT – After working for over two years on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, resident physicians at the University of Vermont Medical Center have made demands for voluntary union recognition by their employer. The doctors began organizing over five months ago after struggling to advocate to hospital management for protecting patient care and workplace safety during the pandemic. Subsequently, a supermajority of residents have come together in support of forming a local chapter with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU).
Resident physicians have cited issues such as cost of living, lack of adequate workspaces and the mass exodus of hospital support staff as key issues that led to unionization. “I love my job, and I love taking care of patients. I have studied for years to get to where I am, but as a resident physician some weeks I make less than minimum wage. We are locked into our contracts with no power to negotiate. It’s hard to take care of patients when you are worried about making ends meet,” said Dr. Becca Merrifox, Pediatrics, PGY2. “A supermajority of us support unionizing, UVM should do the right thing and recognize us.”
As Vermont’s largest hospital, and the only teaching hospital in the state, UVM’s resident physicians are the primary care providers for many of the state’s most marginalized patients.
Dr. Kaley Kinnamon, a PGY2 resident in neurology, commented that “As residents, we often work 80-90 hours a week in the hospital. By forming a union, we are hopeful that the administration will afford us the same opportunity to advocate for ourselves that they allow nurses, technicians, and other vital members of the healthcare team.”
Amid a nationwide trend of unionization and labor issues, the resident physicians hope to join the well-established union presence in Burlington, including over 2,400 nurses and technicians at the hospital. Currently, the unit has over 350 residents.
The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest housestaff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 20,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.