Coalition of Rutgers Unions Rally As Faculty Start Strike Authorization Vote
Newark, NJ–Rutgers resident physicians, represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), rallied with dozens of other Rutgers union members Tuesday at the Rutgers-Newark campus to demand fair contracts after more than half a year of bargaining. Workers from AAUP, CIR, and more were joined by New Jersey labor leaders, including Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls, as well as Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson, at the “Take Back Rutgers” rally ahead of the faculty’s planned strike authorization vote later on Tuesday.
CIR physicians say both fair pay and a supplemental mental health benefit are crucial to combat mental health issues that are far too common in the nation’s exploitative physician training system. As the primary doctors patients see at facilities like Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and University Hospital, New Jersey’s only public hospital, Rutgers residents say their well-being is inseparable from patient care.
“To treat the whole patient the way they deserve, we must be whole ourselves, we must be rested, we must have the treatment we need,” said Dr. Ali Cooper, a second year emergency medicine resident at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School. “It’s about health equity—when admin are dragging their feet to improve conditions for exploited doctors working with primarily poor, often uninsured patients of color at University Hospital, what kind of message does that send about Rutgers’ relationship with our communities?”
New Jersey currently has unfilled residency spots, depriving patients of fully staffed hospitals, and CIR physicians say a fair contract with Rutgers, the state’s sole academic healthcare provider, is essential to recruit great young doctors.
“How Rutgers treats us as resident physicians is ultimately how they treat their patients,” said Dr. Cooper. “By the same token, investing in Rutgers academic workers is an investment in the quality public education New Jerseyans deserve—and we’re in complete solidarity with AAUP, the Adjunct Faculty Union and all Rutgers unions.”
CIR member and Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School physician Dr. Dusty Biron spoke alongside CIR NJ/DC Regional Vice President Dr. Ja’Nelle Blocker at the rally, while Dr. Ali Cooper spoke on behalf of Rutgers residents at the Board of Governors meeting the same day.
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 25,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.