Chicago, Illinois – Interns, residents, and fellows at the University of Illinois at Chicago have filed union authorization cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for union certification. After an organizing campaign that began over a year ago, UIC resident physicians are set to join the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), the largest housestaff union in the country and a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Today’s filing comes at the heels of the rising trend of housestaff unionization in the U.S., the most recent of which was at the University of Massachusetts last month.
“Even pre-pandemic, we were concerned about the lack of resources we were forced to work with. Once Covid hit, all of the issues that we struggled with multiplied exponentially– from not having enough space and support staff to challenges facing our patients because of inadequate social services. It became clear that we needed a voice so that we can meaningfully participate in decisions that affect our training and patient care,” said Dr. Nina Paroff.
The months-long, grassroots campaign occurred during a time when medicine in the U.S. is increasingly shaped around extracting profits instead of prioritizing the needs of people. Combined with rising costs of living, stunted wages, and surging student debt that is especially affecting young doctors, resident physicians are facing a difficult reality.
“We want to provide the best care we can for our patients and that is simply not possible when we don’t have the support we need. A union will empower us to make real change at our hospital. The wellness and safety of our profession means the health and wellness of our community,” said Dr. Amy Eisenberg. “To me, a union not only means a seat at the table and a voice for change, it means being able to improve the lives of our patients. We fight everyday to provide the best for our patients – part of that fight is providing the best care for ourselves.”
“I think one of our most important goals is ensuring that we have all the necessary resources to provide the best possible care for our patients. That we’ve been able to come together as physicians to advocate for better working conditions during one of the most difficult years in healthcare history demonstrates how deeply invested we are in improving our healthcare system. Several safety net hospitals in our area have closed recently and our community is depending on us. With a union, we’re not only advocating for ourselves; we have a stronger voice to fight for our patients too,” Dr. Lena Carleton. By joining CIR, UIC interns, residents and fellows will be able to collectively negotiate contracts which prioritize patient care and physician well-being.
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