Newer Physicians In America Are Driving Unionization Attempts

( – There are many professions that benefit from unions: automakers, writers, actors, electricians, and plumbers, to name a few. The organizations represent their members, working to get the best pay and benefits available. Now, an up-and-coming new generation of physicians is driving the movement to do the same.

A group of approximately 400 residents in Kaiser’s Northern California system filed to unionize earlier this month. They cite low working wages compared to other doctors, excruciating hours—up to 80 hours per week—and the high cost of living as some of the reasons behind it. One resident, Ali Duffens, said she earns approximately $82,000 per year, but pays $3,000 per month for rent and has $350,000 in student loans.

Other residents at universities around the country, including George Washington University, Montefiore Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, and Mass General Brigham, have also voted to unionize. They’re all seeking increased pay, better benefits, and improved working conditions. By unionizing, they feel they will have a chance to have a voice at the table, which will improve not only their situations but also patient care. Some of the issues that have come up include rideshare reimbursement after working particularly long shifts and housing and meal stipends.

This group isn’t the first to bring up the possibility of unionization. In fact, in Minnesota and Wisconsin, a group of physicians at Allina Health, a large nonprofit healthcare system, decided to go that route. Doctors argued they were regularly overworked and burned out due to staffing issues. More than 500 primary care physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners voted to unionize much to Allina Health’s chagrin.

There’s a growing interest in other sectors that don’t normally organize, such as tech workers and architects. Some have complained that lower wages and companies mandating that their employees work around the clock are driving the move.

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