San Francisco Frontline Physicians Form Union, Demand Hospital Recognition


California Pacific Medical Center Residents Organize for Patient Care, Physician Wellbeing

Resident physicians at Sutter Health’s four San Francisco California Pacific Medical Center locations announced yesterday their intention to form a union with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU). Their organizing campaign began in May of 2022, and reached a supermajority among their 122 housestaff in December. 

Residents began discussing a union a year prior to the organizing campaign, with many joining the process to have agency in improving patient care standards and their basic needs. “We have seen firsthand that the consequences of burnout are dire,” said Dr. Danielle Golomb, a second-year psychiatry resident. “We came together so we could have a say in our working conditions, because when we are able to take care of ourselves, we are able to provide the best care for our patients. Our goal is to transform the culture of medical training and promote a more supportive, diverse, and inclusive environment for future generations of physicians.”

In the nation’s most expensive metropolitan area, residents are underpaid and frequently overworked, receiving just two days of sick leave per year and regularly working 80 hour weeks. Sutter Health has consistently neglected to prioritize the wellbeing of residents, with hospital management recently failing to pursue the state’s stipend for retained healthcare workers. Many housestaff struggle to make ends meet, as many residents already carry hundreds of thousands in student debt and are subject to the city’s skyrocketing rent prices.

With CMPC’s four campuses all located in downtown San Francisco, residents frequently work with the area’s most vulnerable patient populations, and are fighting to ensure they can receive top quality care from professionals who aren’t distracted by financial burdens. “Having a union is essential to ensure we have a say in the decisions that impact our work,” said Dr. Eric Kalis, a first-year resident of psychiatry. “We are so proud to serve such a vibrant, diverse community; and as multiple public health emergencies persist in our city, including the ongoing pandemic and substance abuse crisis, we need to ensure our healthcare system is prioritizing our people over profits.”

CPMC hospitals that are part of the organizing effort for representation include the Van Ness campus, Davies campus, Mission Bernal campus & Orthopedic Institute, and the Pacific Heights Outpatient campus.

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 24,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.