UC Irvine Resident Physicians Say They’ve Waited Long Enough for a Fair Contract


September 1, 2015
Heather Appel, 917-886-3561

UC Irvine Resident Physicians Say They’ve Waited Long Enough for a Fair Contract

Orange, CA – UC Irvine Health is promoting a “Live well,” campaign in the community. Yet when it comes to the roughly 700 resident physicians who are treating patients at the hospital, there’s something standing in the way of their health and wellbeing — they still lack their union contract.

That was the message delivered by resident physicians at a Labor Day picnic and rally on Sept. 1 on the medical campus. The resident doctors have been part of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare) since 2013 and have been bargaining a first contract for more than 14 months.

“Our negotiations with the hospital on a first contract have been respectful and even collegial, but lately, we feel like we don’t have their full attention,” said Dr. Nate King, an internal medicine resident. “We are asking for a renewed commitment from the hospital to expeditiously negotiate over the few remaining items of business so we can end these prolonged negotiations and focus our attention on care for our patients and improving the quality of care at our hospital.”

The priority issues for the resident physicians are the creation of a patient care fund, housing stipends to bring the UCI residents up to the level of their peers at UC San Diego, living wages, and basic dignities such as meals and rest after working 24-plus hours.

“We are required to live within 30 minutes of the hospital, which forces us to pay rents of $1500-$2000 when we only take home $3200 a month for working 80 hours a week,” said Dr. Jennifer Curtin, a UC Irvine resident. Dr. Curtin found herself living in a hotel room and racking up credit card debt after her apartment flooded three times in six months and was contaminated with black mold. “We aren’t asking to live like kings here; we are asking for the ability to live like humans without destroying ourselves financially.

UC Irvine residents have been inspired by the Patient Care Funds established at other hospitals, where residents are able to identify equipment or services that are lacking and apply for funding to bridge the gap. At LAC+USC, CIR’s Patient Care Fund has provided millions of dollars for ultrasound machines and other essential equipment.

“UC Irvine Medical Center is an innovator and a leader in medicine and medical training,” said CIR President Dr. Hemant Sindhu. “We hope this contract will set a standard for other medical centers and will show how truly valued the resident physicians here are.”