Oakland Public Hospital Physicians Avert Strike to Win “Much More Than Raises”

After Informing Alameda Health System of Their Plans to Engage in an Unfair Labor Practice Strike, Highland Hospital Resident Physicians Win Groundbreaking Contract

Oakland, CA–More than 100 physicians employed by Alameda Health System, unionized with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), announced Thursday that they reached an excellent tentative deal with AHS, including, crucially, language solidifying their right to honor their coworkers’ picket lines. The physicians, who had just informed AHS Monday evening of their plans to engage in a ULP strike later this month, say that AHS finally bargained fairly and moved towards their core demands after eight frustrating months of the system bargaining in bad faith. 

Along with total compensation increases of more than 20% over three years, with the biggest raises for the lowest paid residents, the Highland Hospital residents claimed victories on core proposals, including eight weeks’ paid parental leave, fair pay for when they’re forced to come in unexpectedly, an increase in their diversity fund to $30,000 annually, mental health benefits, and an enforceable commitment to negotiate family building and fertility benefits later this year.

“We desperately need living wages to keep up with the cost of living in the Bay, but this was always about much more than salary,” said Dr. DaShawn Hickman. “This is about making AHS residency possible for our coworkers who are parents or who want to be. This was about making sure AHS can attract physicians who reflect the diversity of this community we’re so proud to serve. It’s about solidarity with the other union workers who make AHS run. We’re so proud right now because this fight showed us how much we can fundamentally shift medical training through our union.” 

A number of elected officials had voiced their support for the physicians throughout the negotiation process. “Highland Hospital is a lifeline to people who cannot get care elsewhere and it’s so important that the workers at the center of that care are supported,” said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. “I am deeply proud of what these physicians accomplished not just for themselves but for our community in Oakland.” 

CIR had filed numerous unfair labor practice charges over Alameda Health’s behavior during negotiations. Most egregiously, late last year, the administration delayed bargaining for weeks, suddenly claiming they lacked the authority to bargain. 

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 27,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.