Palo Alto, CA — On Wednesday, May 17, three-hundred resident and fellow physicians at Stanford Health Care (SHC) held a unity break to demand a fair contract following months of protracted delays and bad faith negotiation tactics by the hospital administration. Represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), the physicians say they are struggling to maintain their personal well-being and safety while working 80-hour weeks to care for their patients.
Since negotiations began in the fall of 2022, Stanford Health Care has delayed the process by canceling sessions and by rejecting or failing to respond to their resident physicians’ proposals. CIR was forced to file an unfair labor practice against Stanford after the health system deliberately withheld information essential to the bargaining process. The NLRB subsequently ruled that Stanford was guilty of engaging in bad faith bargaining practices.
Residents say that this kind of behavior is emblematic of hospital management’s continued refusal to adequately address their concerns around physician safety and the working conditions impacting their ability to care for patients.”Throughout the pandemic, resident physicians have experienced a profound lack of support from hospital administration, and that continues today, “said Dr. Kelsey Priest, a second-year psychiatry resident. “It feels like we are working under the same conditions we were in 2020, and our patient-to-physician ratio is only increasing. Both we and our patients deserve better.”
Stanford Health Care is one of the wealthiest and most prestigious hospital systems in the country. Despite this, many residents say they are struggling to pay for rent and food while living in the nation’s most expensive metropolitan area. Additionally, the lack of affordable transportation options leaves them with no choice but to risk driving home after working 28 hour shifts without sleep— a situation which residents say has resulted in many falling asleep at the wheel.
“We all knew that medical residency would be a tremendous challenge, but what we did not expect was how little Stanford leadership seems to value our hard work,” said Dr. Simran Kaur, a fourth-year Ob/Gyn resident. “We dedicate our lives and sacrifice our youth to become doctors, and we can’t do our jobs without the resources we need to take care of our families.”
Congresswoman Katie Porter, who represents California’s 47th congressional district, sent a message to Stanford in solidarity with the residents. “Resident physicians at Stanford Health Care voted to form a union more than a year ago, and it is unacceptable that they are still without a contract. Stanford raked in millions of dollars of earnings last year. It is time for them to come to the table in good faith and negotiate a contract with these doctors, so they can focus on delivering the best possible patient care.”
The physicians were also joined by nurses represented by the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) and healthcare workers represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).
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 24,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.