Frontline Doctors at LA County Hospitals Vote Yes to Authorize Their Union to Call for an Unfair Labor Practice Strike


Resident Physicians and Fellows with CIR/SEIU at LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center Conclude Landslide Strike Authorization Vote Amid Record-High Inflation, With 99% of Voting Members in Favor of Striking If Necessary

Los Angeles, CA—Frontline resident physicians and fellows at three of LA’s largest hospitals have announced the results of their vote to authorize their union bargaining committee to call for an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike, with an overwhelming majority of the union’s membership voting yes. Represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), the doctors say that after months of bad-faith and unlawful contract negotiations on the part of LA County, County officials have left the healthcare workers with no choice but to be ready to strike, failing a resolution in the coming days.

“The results of our vote show how committed we are across our hospitals and across our departments to taking this next step if we need to,” says Dr. Mahima Iyengar, a first-year internal medicine-pediatrics resident at LAC+USC Medical Center and a CIR Regional Vice President. “This is a mandate and we got it because all of us understand that this is ultimately about wanting to give everything to the communities we serve, and ensuring we have what we need outside of work to focus completely on patient care when we’re in the hospital.”

For months, the County has failed to make movement on key union proposals and rejected them outright, repeatedly canceled scheduled bargaining sessions, and otherwise engaged in bad faith bargaining conduct. The doctors say they need the County to come to the table and bargain fairly so that they can get what they need to care for their patients and their own families amid severe inflation and the ongoing pandemic.

“We know that patients fare better when their doctors look like them, but doctors from underrepresented groups generally have larger financial burdens, so they end up going to hospitals that pay them adequately, because they need it,” says Dr. Monique Hedmann, a second-year family medicine resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and a CIR Regional Vice President. “This is about us being able to pay our rent, but it’s also about the future of these hospitals and their role in providing LA’s communities with great care long-term,” says Dr. Hedmann. “We’re willing to make the short term sacrifice of striking in order to build something that lasts.”

The CIR physicians are currently working under an expired contract, and first-year residents make as little as $14 an hour considering a typical 80-hour work week. If they do not reach a resolution with the County soon, they could be the first members of their resident physicians union to strike in 32 years. The union’s bargaining team say they continue to strive for good faith bargaining and will engage in intensive bargaining sessions with the County this week with the goal of coming to a resolution.

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest house staff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 22,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.