UCLA Residents File for Union Recognition, Seek to Join CIR/SEIU


June 8, 2018

Elizabeth Strater, Communications
209-222-7071 | estrater@cirseiu.org

UCLA Residents File for Union Recognition, Seek to Join CIR/SEIU

A clear majority of interns, residents and fellows at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have completed a months-long organizing campaign to form their union and join 15,000 of their fellow residents nationwide who are represented by The Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU (CIR). They filed for public recognition today.

Residents at UCLA have been working to form their union since late 2017. This has been a resident-led grassroots organizing effort that started with a handful of residents questioning why their residency program salaries and benefits were falling behind other comparable programs, especially with Los Angeles’ escalating costs of living.  

After decades of declining union density in younger workers, these residents are part of the wave of younger, educated professionals giving the American labor movement new energy.  In 2017, one third of new union members nationally were white collar or tech workers, mostly in the public sector. Tellingly, more than three-quarters of new members were under age 35, part of a five-year trend of growth among younger workers, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. [**see linked study]

These younger, educated professionals opting to form a union show that organizations are adapting to the new reality.  “I think that people of my generation feel like unions are something that our parents had, that gave us great things like stability and health insurance,” said Greg Gabrellas, a psychiatry resident at UCLA.  “We don’t know what it’s like to have that stability ourselves, and so much of the work available to us as a generation isn’t unionized. I feel like we have normalized a sense of cynicism when it comes to our work being valued.”

The residents who were most active in the organization efforts had a remarkably collaborative message when it comes to their employer: they want to unionize because they want their programs to maintain their excellence. “We came together as residents to form a union as an investment in our residency programs. I believe that UCLA’s excellent residency programs will keep that competitive edge by making sure residents have a voice in how things are done,” said Kyle Ragins, leader of the organizing committee and emergency medicine resident. “We believe that forming a union with CIR is the best way to ensure UCLA doesn’t fall behind comparable institutions, especially on the west coast.”

By joining CIR, UCLA residents will be able to collectively negotiate their contracts, including bargaining for better salaries, benefits, time off, and other provisions that will improve resident life and well-being. UCLA residents are joining the ranks of a growing number of physicians across the country who feel that unionizing is essential to making improvements to residency programs and to resident lives.


About the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare)

Founded in 1957, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare) is the oldest and largest housestaff union in the U.S., representing more than 15,000 physicians in public and private teaching hospitals across the country. CIR empowers resident physicians to have a voice in their employment and training and to be advocates for their patients.

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