UCLA Employee & Labor Relations ED Insists Physicians “Take Responsibility for Their Own Health”

Press Release: For Immediate Release – 8/12/19
Press Contact: Patricia Piper-Bennett – 415-914-5511

As Housestaff Contract Negotiations Heat Up, UCLA Employee & Labor Relations ED Insists Physicians “Take Responsibility for Their Own Health”
Talks deadlock over resident health care and on-campus union representation

Los Angeles- This week UCLA Medical Center’s frontline physicians return to the negotiating table with University officials. After a grueling ten-month process to finalize a three-year contract, negotiations hit an impasse as school administrators continue to reject resident proposals for on-campus union representation and resident and dependent health care.

UCLA’s Executive Director of Employee and Labor Relations, Maure Gardner stated, “Residents should have to pay co-pays, to incentivize them to take responsibility for their own health.”

But health care benefits are an important factor attracting talent to the ‘#6 in the Nation’ Medical Center. “As much as I love the residency program here, I would not have even considered moving my wife and daughter to Los Angeles if it hadn’t been for the benefits of free health insurance and subsidized housing. Removal of such benefits would be a staggering blow to my family and countless others, and would also be a significant deterrent to any applicants with a family,” Austin Woolley, UCLA MD, introspected.

A unity break at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center is scheduled for August 14th as UCLA resident physicians, interns and fellows advocate for their own access to health care and on-campus union representation.

National reports on increasing doctor fatigue and stress, often resulting in burnout and tragically suicide, are widespread with higher rates than any other U.S. profession. While working over 60 hours per week amidst taxing rotations, UCLA resident physicians worry about overlooking their physical and mental health needs. But adding healthcare costs to their burdensome student loan debt and oppressive L.A. living costs would restrict their ability to care for themselves.

Apprehensions that UCLA’s residency program salaries and benefits were falling behind comparable programs catalyzed a residents-led grassroots effort in 2018 to organize under the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU (CIR). With CIR’s representation, UCLA’s residents have made some gains bargaining for a fair contract following personal safety concerns and shortfalls of promised housing stipends.

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 16,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.

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