Stanford Health Care Rejects Request Made by a Supermajority of its Housestaff to Recognize Their Union



March 1, 2022

Press Contact: Sunyata Altenor


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Stanford Health Care Rejects Request Made by a Supermajority of its Housestaff to Recognize Their Union

Stanford Health Care has refused to recognize the housestaff union and will be forcing its resident physicians and fellows to go through the process of a union election through the National Labor Relations Board.  

Stanford, CA – On February 24, 2022, Stanford Health Care refused to recognize the housestaff union after a supermajority of the 1456 interns, residents, chief residents and fellows  delivered a formal demand for recognition to their employer. Stanford’s refusal has been met with frustration by housestaff, who have felt disrespected at the culmination of intense organizing efforts during the past year.

Housestaff have expressed disappointment at Stanford’s decision to force them to participate in an NLRB election process despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of housestaff support union representation with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU). “After being called ‘heroes’ and in a time where we continue to sacrifice so much to serve our communities on the frontline, it feels disrespectful to housestaff that Stanford disregards our choice to organize for workplace improvements, essentially prolonging the processes by which we can collectively bargain to improve working conditions and patient care. We are thoroughly disappointed in Stanford’s decision to make it harder for its workers to advocate for the things we need to do our job,” said Dr. Philip Sossenheimer, Internal Medicine.  

While the residents’ advocacy has ultimately culminated in unionization efforts, Stanford Health Care’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the union has forced these frontline workers to go through the arduous process of a union election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  There has been a shifting tide at the NLRB to better protect workers and restore organizing rights. 

“We hoped that the current efforts at the NLRB  to improve protections and expand workplace rights would’ve had an impact on Stanford’s response to our overwhelming support of the union. Since we already have a supermajority of housestaff signed on to union authorization cards, we shouldn’t have a reason to go through an election process. The pandemic has underscored how vulnerable we are. We’ve taken on more hours and more patients, all with a lack of support and proper compensation. While this latest development is frustrating, we’re undeterred,” said Dr. Meaghan Roy-O’Reilly, Neurology.

Housestaff will now seek to make Stanford recognize and respect its choice to join CIR through the NLRB election process and have the robust support of allied unions and fellow healthcare workers such as the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), an independent union of Stanford nurses.  

“As frontline workers, resident physicians and nurses are often the first point of contact for patients. We often confront the same issues and advocacy for workplace standards that ensures our well-being has far reaching effects across our system that benefits us all. CRONA members are proud to stand with residents and fellows in pursuit of their union, a voice in their working conditions, and excellent patient care,” Colleen Borges, oncology nurse at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and President of CRONA. 

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 20,000 resident physicians and fellows, CIR members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.