Frontline UC Doctors Win Improved Care and Working Conditions, Call for Equitable Contracts For Physicians Across System


Resident Physicians at UC Irvine and UCSF Secure Fair Contract Following Historic Actions

Resident physicians and fellows at the University of California Irvine and the University of California San Francisco, represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU), have both secured fair contracts in recent weeks, following months of negotiations. The agreements were reached after doctors across the state organized a historic system-wide week of action late last month, as part of the “1UC” campaign to win improvements to resident and fellow working conditions and patient care.

Residents and fellows at UC Irvine and UCSF were thrilled to secure contracts that they say will better enable them to show up to work fully focused in order to provide the highest standard of care to patients. In particular, residents fought hard to win improved housing and salary packages, which are crucial to account for the state’s skyrocketing cost of living. Both agreements grant residents much-needed raises to help keep up with inflation, starting with an average of more than 7% for the physicians, depending on their experience level. The physicians in both cities also won and codified an additional four weeks of paid parental leave–from four to eight weeks–and crucial meal stipend benefits were expanded with both contracts. 

The residents’ campaigns in Irvine and San Francisco are part of 1UC, the largest coordinated contract campaign for resident physicians in history, which began earlier this year with the aim of setting a baseline standard for residency in the state for the benefit of physicians and patients alike. “From the beginning of this campaign, we set out to do something historic across the UC system in terms of improving our working conditions–and let’s be clear, resident physician working conditions are patient care conditions,” said Dr. Christine Fung, a third-year internal medicine resident at UC-Irvine. “As the doctors who patients see and with the scale of the UC system, in the largest state, we knew that we could have a massive impact on health care in California and maybe even residency in general, and I think that is exactly what’s playing out thanks to our unity statewide.” 

While residents at Irvine and San Francisco have won fair contracts, UC Health has yet to reach similar agreements with their colleagues serving at medical centers for UC Davis, UC Los Angeles, UC Riverside, UCSF Fresno, and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, which the physicians say is unacceptable. The residents’ statewide week of action also coincided with the launch of the still-ongoing UAW strike, participants of which joined together with residents in a show of solidarity to underscore the system’s widespread mistreatment of frontline workers.

With residents often saddled with over $200,000 in average student loan debt and regularly working over 80 hours a week, a fair contract is essential to ensure they can provide top quality care. “Our wins at UCSF and UC Irvine show that the University of California is capable of meeting the basic needs of its trainees in order to provide the best care to patients,” said Dr. Kelley Butler, a second-year resident at UCSF. “It’s unacceptable that the University hasn’t been able to do that for the rest of our colleagues–especially in places like Riverside and Fresno where residents are taking care of some of the most marginalized patients in the state. Every UC physician deserves a fair contract now.” 

The UCSF residents and fellows reached a tentative agreement with the hospital on November 29 and are voting to ratify their new contract this week, while the UC Irvine physicians officially ratified their contract on November 18, with 98% of voting CIR members voting yes. 

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.