In Pursuit of Parity and Voice in the Workplace, USC/Keck Resident Physicians Demand Union Recognition


March 9, 2022
Press Contact: Dara Streit
P: (415) 914-5616

Despite working side by side throughout the pandemic, Housestaff at Keck School of Medicine of USC (“USC/Keck”) receive unequal compensation, benefits, and protections compared to their LA County counterparts. Now they’re moving to unionize in order to advocate for themselves. 

Los Angeles, CA – A supermajority of the 85 interns, residents, and fellows employed by Keck School of Medicine of USC have formally requested that their hospital voluntarily recognize their union, the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU (“CIR/SEIU”). This effort is the latest in an ongoing trend of housestaff organizing. 

USC/Keck resident physicians regularly rotate at LAC+USC Medical Center, a facility operated by the County of Los Angeles. Resident physicians directly employed by the County are represented by CIR/SEIU and benefit from a collective bargaining agreement. Housestaff employed by USC/Keck are not represented by CIR/SEIU and are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Having one group of housestaff who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and another group that are not, has led to disparities in the respective groups’ terms and conditions of employment. For example, USC/Keck residents lack the more affordable health insurance options available to LA County residents and were not given Covid Impact Pay. 

These differences are deeply felt as USC/Keck residents have been working shoulder to shoulder with LA county residents caring for patients throughout the pandemic. “We have been there every step of the way for our communities. We’re doing the exact same work yet see ourselves go without the kind of support our colleagues are rightly afforded. Why are we treated differently?” Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, PGY 5, Hematology and Medical Oncology. 

Facing ongoing surges, a broken healthcare system, and increasing costs of living, USC/Keck residents are looking for a seat at the table. “We’re on the frontlines every day yet cannot negotiate the terms and conditions we work under or advocate for ourselves. I personally have been working in the ICUs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re fighting for our union to ensure the resources and support we need to deliver the best patient care possible. We’re demanding that USC/Keck respect our right to freely join our union colleagues in having a fair contract and a voice at work,” Dr. Drew Sheldon, PGY 6, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine. 

The request made on behalf of USC/Keck residents for recognition of their union is part of a national trend. In just the last two weeks, residents employed by Stanford Health Care, and the University of Vermont have sought union recognition after also achieving supermajority support.

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest housestaff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 20,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.