STRATFORD, NJ — Rowan University faced tough questions from its resident physicians Wednesday morning, as around 50 residents, medical students and other workers gathered to demand an end to delays in their contract negotiations.
“I want to ask Rowan: how do you expect to retain the physicians who train in your programs and address the physician shortage in this state if this pattern of disrespect continues?” said Dr. Kay Yoon-Flannery, a RowanSOM Chief Surgical Resident and delegate of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU). “How do you plan to be a major research institution if you won’t support residents whose research is accepted for presentation at national conferences?”
Dr. Yoon-Flannery and her colleagues questioned the University’s ability to become a world-class research institution given its inability to settle a fair contract with the residents’ union after nearly two years at the bargaining table.
Rowan employs 230 physicians-in-training who work up to 80 hours a week. After more than a dozen negotiation sessions with the University, the resident physicians said the package being presented to our committee provides almost nothing to improve working conditions, strengthen training programs, or promote Rowan University as a major research institute.
“Imagine working those long hours, often in life-or-death circumstances, and having to haggle with your employer over a minimal meal allowance, the opportunity to present groundbreaking research to the medical community or access to clean scrubs and white coats. It’s absurd,” said Dr. Brittni Jones, a psychiatry resident and CIR delegate. ““When we generate clinical research and present it to a national audience — in turn publicizing RowanSOM as the major research institution it aspires to be — we are told at the bargaining table that this should be at our own expense, because doing research and presenting is merely a personal decision.”
“It’s simply outrageous that resident physicians already working under incredibly stressful conditions also have to endure the indignity of working without a fair contract. The women and men who take care of our loved ones deserve much better!” said SEIU NJ State Council Executive Director Lizette Delgado-Polanco.
The group was also joined by representatives from the nurses’ union (HPAE).
After the restructuring of UMDNJ three years ago, Rowan took over the School of Osteopathic Medicine’s residency programs, while Rutgers took over at University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick. Rutgers residents settled a contract in April providing salary increases retroactive to July 2014, an increased educational allowance, and tuition remission for themselves and their dependents. Rowan resident physicians have not received a salary increase in six years.