Northwestern Medicine Residents Latest to Seek Union Status

Derick Alison
Derick Alison
3 Min Read

Residents and fellows at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago are the latest group of young doctors trying to form a union.

The group, comprised of nearly 1,300 physicians employed by McGaw Medical Center, are seeking to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU). They’ve filed a request for voluntary recognition of their union from their employer with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), according to a press release from CIR.

Forming a union would provide an opportunity for house staff at Northwestern Medicine to improve residency conditions as well as advocate for patients, CIR/SEIU said in a statement.

Mugdha Mokashi, MD, a second-year ob/gyn resident, said residents and fellows often take care of patients with the greatest needs and the fewest resources.

“I never want us to choose between our health, well-being, and financial stability and security, and providing excellent patient care,” Mokashi told MedPage Today.

“Unionization is about so much more than financial compensation,” Mokashi added. Rather, it is about “creating a contract that respects us as workers [and] important members of the clinical team.”

“This is about having a seat at the table,” to help make decisions that affect working conditions for residents and fellows, as well as others, including nurses and midwives, Mokashi said. She added that the individuals “directly responsible for making patient care better” should hold power within an institution.

Nationwide, the movement of young doctors organizing has picked up steam. Other recent unionization efforts by residents and fellows included those at Mass General Brigham in Boston — despite house staff receiving a significant salary increase — and those at the University of Pennsylvania.

The flurry of activity has also included residents and fellows at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx in New York City, Stanford Health Care in California, and the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, among others.

As for McGaw Medical Center at Northwestern Medicine, a spokesperson told MedPage Today in an emailed statement that it has received the petition. “We are reviewing it and will respond in due course,” the spokesperson said.

House staff at Northwestern Medicine are seeking to join some 1,200 hospital workers in Chicago who are already unionized under SEIU Healthcare, according to CIR/SEIU.

Included in the McGaw Medical Center unit are all full-time and regular part-time house staff, specifically interns, residents, chief residents, and fellows, according to the NLRB filing.

Nationwide, CIR/SEIU represents more than 30,000 residents and fellows.

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    Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.

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