For Immediate Release: March 6, 2020
UC Davis Resident Physicians Fight to Protect Patient Care and Resident Well-being
After the University failed to bargain in good faith, CIR Residents file Unfair Labor Practice
Sacramento, CA — UC Davis Medical Center is currently in the news for diagnosing and treating California’s first reported community-acquired coronavirus patient. Resident physicians, who are working on the frontlines of patient care, are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, coworkers and the larger community. Those involved in caring for this patient are staying home to mitigate further risk.
However, these safety measures are far from commonplace at the hospital, and are noticeably absent in Residents’ day-to-day experiences. Most Residents work over 70 hours per week. Along with the added pressure of actively preventing further contagion, they are spread increasingly thin as their colleagues are asked to stay home, and are receiving limited support from the administration.
“When Residents are not given the necessary support, it puts our health at risk, and patients are affected too,” said Dr. Manny Garcha, a 2nd-year Neurology Resident. This harmful culture pushes Residents beyond their limits, often at the expense of their physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, these practices reflect the deficiencies of their current working conditions.
After unionizing in May 2019, UC Davis Residents have been working hard to negotiate their first contract to improve working conditions and patient care. This new contract addresses many of the issues that prevent them from consistently maintaining their own health and consequently affects patient care.
In response, the UC Davis administration has not bargained in good faith with Residents. After multiple sessions where the University has failed to bring counters, residents have filed an unfair labor practice.
Residents are on the frontline of patient care at UC Davis hospital, but as is evident in a system that has fewer than five mental health providers to serve 750 Resident physicians, the infrastructure in place to protect their well-being is deeply inadequate. This is further demonstrated by the University’s initial failure to notify CIR that its members were exposed and placed in quarantine confirming that this is part of a pattern of inaction.
“Taking outbreak threats seriously includes addressing the basic well-being needs of Residents: this means UC Davis Medical Center needs to come to the table ready to negotiate with us for fair labor standards,” said Dr. Arunima Kohli, a 3rd-year Family Medicine Resident.
As scrutiny on the hospital increases during this health crisis, the need for a fair contract that protects Residents’ well-being is more necessary than ever. By failing to bargain in good faith, UC Davis Medical Center’s administration’s inaction is jeopardizing not only CIR Residents’ health, but the health of the communities they serve.
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 17,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care and expanding healthcare access for our communities.
UC Davis Residents are not alone in advocating for better working conditions. Residents across the country, including those at UCSF, UCLA and UCI have organized and negotiated agreements with employers to substantially improve Resident working conditions and safeguard patient care.