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University of Chicago Medical Center resident doctors are forming a union

UChicago Medicine

1000+ Housestaff Latest to Unionize for Patient Care, Physician Wellbeing

More than 1,000 resident physicians and fellows at the University of Chicago Medicine announced their intention to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU). After demanding voluntary recognition from the university, the physicians filed a petition for election with the National Labor Relations Board this morning.

Today’s filing comes just two months after Northwestern Medicine housestaff voted overwhelmingly to join CIR, solidly placing Chicago at the heart of the ongoing movement for resident physician unionization.

This effort would see the frontline doctors gain representation at the bargaining table, where they want to use their experience on the frontlines of Chicago healthcare to advocate for patient care and physician well being. 

“Working at the trauma center, which the community fought for years to open, made it clear we needed a seat at the table to advocate for ourselves and our patients,” stated Dr. Nicholas Kowalczyk, a Nephrology fellow at UChicago. “The care we provide is essential for our most vulnerable community members. By unionizing, we will have the power to negotiate with the hospital for the support and resources we need to provide comprehensive care for our patients.”

The residents say that by unionizing, they can partner with their CIR colleagues at Northwestern and the University of Illinois, Chicago, to raise healthcare standards across Chicago. In a city with a long history of racial inequity, the levels of healthcare access and health outcomes will remain disparate without an investment in quality care and access.

The physicians are overworked and underpaid, regularly working over 80+ hour weeks while carrying over $200,000 in student debt. Despite serving as the primary healthcare providers for some of Chicago’s most vulnerable patient populations, they still have little say in decisions that directly impact patient care.

“As the main doctors patients see at UChicago Medical, we have unique insight into the workings of the hospital and the needs of our patients,” said Dr.  Aisha Amuda, a fourth-year resident in internal medicine and pediatrics. “Our hospitals are vital resources for communities across the city. With union representation, we can ensure that our experiences will help shape decisions to improve both our training and the care we provide to our patients.”

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest house staff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 32,000 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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