The Physicians Say Wins Support Their Well-being and the Future of Care for New Jersey
New Jersey–Representing more than 1100 Rutgers resident physicians and fellows, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIRSEIU) announced Wednesday that the union reached a tentative agreement with the university after almost a full year of bargaining. The physicians, who work at dozens of facilities across the area, including Newark’s University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, say that after a long and grueling fight, their wins will make a concrete difference in their lives and in the future of care for the state.
“CIR set out to push Rutgers to better support our well-being and our ability to care for New Jersey patients without having to sacrifice all of ourselves in the process–and that’s exactly what we achieved,” said Dr. Stephanie Ruthberg. “These gains will help lessen our financial stress, will mean we can be more present with our loved ones, and will mean our patients are seen by better rested doctors. But our fight continues, and we intend to hold Rutgers accountable to addressing our mental health needs, which cannot wait.”
The tentative deal includes wage increases above the pattern set by other unions–as a means of addressing a structural inequity in the CIR doctors’ compensation–totaling 3.75% (6.57% for first years), 3.5%, and 3.5%, over three years, along with retro pay to July 1, 2022. The agreement also includes a $1300 per year education stipend, meal stipend and on-call pay increases, and the formation of a taskforce to address the physicians’ mental health coverage.
“This really shows the importance of having a union, especially since exploitation of residents and fellows has for too long been the default, as we hold together the pieces of an unjust, profit-driven healthcare system,” said Dr. Helen Lu. “I’m proud of what we’re continuing to build together with CIR and with all our fellow Rutgers workers. Rutgers unions are proving that we are done with letting this giant university act like a corporation–that we are ready to fight for what we deserve and what New Jersey deserves.”
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.