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Resident Physician Strike Averted With New Contract Deal

Resident Assistants in blue scrubs and light blue masks hold up white signs that say in purple letters, "Respect us, Protect us, Pay us fairly." the resident in the middle of the photo has blonde hair and looks directly into camera behind wire-framed glasses. There a few other physicians behind them.
Hundreds of Committee of Interns and Residents members marched on May 5, 2022, in protest of low wages and stalled bargaining with LA County.
(Justin L. Stewart
Courtesy CIR/SEIU)
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The union representing resident physicians and fellows at three Los Angeles County-run hospitals has reached a tentative contract deal, averting a possible strike.

The Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU union represents more than 1,300 members working at LA County USC Medical Center, Harbor UCLA Medical Center, and Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center.

Monique Hedmann is a resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center who says the new agreement includes “significant gains” in salary, housing and establishing a diversity fund to recruit underrepresented minorities in medicine.

“We really just want to send the message that just because residency, medical training has been historically exploitative, it does not have to be that way. And it is important that our work and contribution as resident physicians is properly valued,” Hedmann said.

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The members of the union had been bargaining with the county for six months and accused the county of canceling meetings and coming ill-prepared to discussions.

A 99% vote from union voters authorized the strike after a two-week voting period. If the strike was not averted, it would have been the first resident physicians’ strike by CIR members since 1990.

The residents say their average salary–which is about $50,000 to $65,000 a year — makes it difficult to support themselves amid rising living costs. That, along with long shifts of up to 80 hours a week and the stress of working during the pandemic has physicians fed up.

“We're doctors, and people see us with white coats, so they think we make what you would think a doctor makes," Alvarado said. "But in residency, if you divide by the number of hours we work, which is about 80 hours a week, we actually make about minimum wage, if not less than minimum wage."

Hedmann says members will start voting on the tentative deal on Wednesday and expects the final results by next week.

L.A .County did not immediately respond to KPCC’s request for comment.

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