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UCI Residents And Fellow Doctors Demand New Union Contract

UCI representatives for the Committee of Interns and Residents, or CIR, presented the signatures of 500 UCI residents and fellow doctors in support of the negotiations for a new union contract to the Dean of the UCI School of Medicine, Dr. Michael Stamos, on Jan. 29. 

CIR representatives have been in negotiations with the UCI medical school since their contract expired in June 2019. They are seeking the same contract that UCLA residents received following the completion of their first contract negotiation, which included “wage and housing stipend increases, sustained health benefits until 2021 and unrestricted union access in the hospital.”  

Having a contract in place means that resident doctors can advocate for patient care funds, more equipment, reasonable work hours, livable wages and a grievance process where the UCI medical administration has to respond to the concerns of residents and fellow doctors. 

“The petition that we delivered to Dean Stamos was designed to signal to him that there are 500 resident and fellow doctors that are patient about the issues that are up for negotiation in our contract and that we want UCI to come to the table and give us a contract,” said Justin Glavis-Bloom, a resident doctor in the radiology department.

Immediately following the expiration of their old contract, UCI representatives began working with the medical school to create a contract with UCI patients and resident doctors in mind. 

Photo provided by Justin Glavis-Bloom/Courtesy

UCI residents and fellows take into consideration the high cost of living in Orange County, which is why they are seeking to have the UCLA contract stipulations regarding the meal stipend and fair wages for on-call doctors. On-call doctors are required to live close to the hospital in the case of a patient emergency.

UCI representatives are also requesting family leave for residents and fellows who are becoming new parents. 

“A lot of residents and fellows end up having kids, as they don’t exit their programs until their mid to late thirties. At the moment, new parents have no days off, you can take vacation days, but there is no leave. UCI has indicated that they are willing to give new parents four weeks off,” Glavis-Bloom said.    

The 2018 UCI first year class is between the ages of 21 and 31 and, according to a UCI School of Medicine representative, the school has a number of medical students with families. A 2001 survey of surgical residence found that 57% of respondents relied on their spouse for child care.

“The ‘personal life and patient care’ dichotomy is that the focus on resident wellness is also key to recruiting competitive residency applicants, and making sure that UCI is able to draw the best residents to both serve our Orange County community and make the UCI Medical Center a world-class institution,” Nicholas Hutchings, a resident doctor and soon-to-be father, said. 

According to Hutchings, a contract that contains parental benefits for residents and fellows aids prospective students in the decision-making process. 

“[When] comparing residency programs and their [salary and benefits], and thinking about moving to a place far from family — especially to a place with high cost of living, while thinking of establishing a family of their own — paid parental leave is a big factor for applicants in ranking residency programs,” Hutchings said.

The negotiated contract will affect the over 600 residents and fellows at the UCI Medical Center and other affiliated institutions that the School of Medicine trains.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the patient. We’re asking UCI to give us a contract that takes care of us well enough so that we can show up everyday for work, get in there early, stay late, live near the hospital and provide the best patient care,” said Glavis-Bloom. “We want to have everything UCLA has, without the traffic.

Tatum Larsen is a Campus News Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at tnlarsen@uci.edu.