Frontline Stanford Doctors Overwhelmingly Win Union Vote
Following Unprecedented Pandemic Activism, Stanford Health Care’s Resident Physicians Win Union for Patient Care, Working Conditions
Stanford, CA – Yesterday evening, the resident and fellow physicians successfully won their union with an overwhelming supermajority, with over 81% residents voting in favor of representation by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU). This victory comes after a historic union organizing campaign that began in December 2020 with a resident-led protest against Stanford’s staff vaccination plan that excluded the hospital’s frontline pandemic physicians from the initial rollout.
Following the historic and widely-covered organizing effort that launched their campaign, the resident physicians are looking forward to advocating for improved patient care standards and working conditions with union representation. “Our doctors are united by our desire to provide the best possible patient care and strong worker protections,” said Dr. Ben Solomon, an PGY 3-year resident of Pediatrics. “One thing the pandemic has made abundantly clear, in addition to the widespread equity issues in our healthcare system, is that our needs as physicians cannot be separated from those of our patients.”
In late February, Stanford Health Care refused to voluntarily recognize the housestaff union despite a supermajority of the 1,456 interns, residents, and fellows who delivered the formal demand to their employer. This was emblematic of hospital management’s ongoing refusal to address resident concerns, leading residents to organize the union election through the National Labor Relations Board.
Amid widespread physician burnout, residents were frustrated that Stanford Health Care has stalled instead of taking action to adequately support its resident physicians. “Hospital administration has let us down time and time again. With a seat at the table, we are equipped to take the advocacy for ourselves and our patients into our own hands,” said Dr. Meaghan Roy-O’Reilly, an PGY 2-year resident of Neurology. “We understand the power of collective organizing, and we are excited to directly address these issues.”
As the ongoing physician and nursing shortage continues to impact hospitals nationwide, housestaff have been forced to fill in gaps in patient care with no additional support despite working for a hospital whose profits continue to soar, only exacerbating burnout related to 80-hour workweeks and salaries incommensurate with cost of living. With its successful representation with the Committee of Interns and Residents, Stanford housestaff now join the strong community of allied unions and fellow healthcare workers such as the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), an independent union of Stanford nurses.
According to the official vote tally, the residents at SMC won their union with 835 yes votes to 214 no votes, and have up to a week to win official certification. The election results must now be certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) before becoming final. The NLRB is an independent federal agency that oversees union elections in the private sector.
CIR/SEIU is the largest housestaff union in the United States and is a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 20,000 resident physicians and fellows. CIR is dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care and expanding healthcare access for the communities their hospitals serve.