What are we bargaining for?

A union means that we are empowered to use our collective voice to effect necessary change in our workplace. Housestaff are traditionally very vulnerable employees – we sign our contract through the Match before even finding out where we will work; we live in fear of retaliation as we cannot easily change workplaces; and we are only here for a few years meaning that the employer can simply wait us out in order to avoid change. The 500P expansion, the vaccine rollout, the COVID surges, and more have all shown us that there is a pattern of the hospital neglecting and exploiting its housestaff employees. Our union ensures we are at the bargaining table, rather than forgotten.

We are organizing not only for a new economic contract – so that every potential housestaff and their families can live here – but also for a new social contract – so that we’re not treated as cheap labor anymore. We need:


I scavenged noon conference food for dinner because I had no income my first month…Stanford said it was ‘too complicated’ to pay me sooner.
“I have 3 dependents. I am drowning in debt. I can’t call off for family emergencies because trainees in our backup system are moonlighting to make ends meet.”
I took a blanket and slept on the floor of our workroom when I was on nights. I can’t help but wonder if building the spacious C-suite offices on the third-floor rooftop gardens was deemed more critical by the hospital than providing call rooms..
“On one rotation I was averaging 100h+ a week. Was so sleep deprived I had to pull off the freeway and call a Lyft in order to come in for the consult, because I was afraid of getting in an accident. This rotation incited my first ever episode of major depression and I fortunately was able to get help through WellConnect, but now my disability insurance premiums are through the roof due to the psychiatric help I received. Still, I am told by some faculty and seniors it’s because my generation and I are “too soft.””
“Witnessing the burnout and trauma of my colleagues only amplifies my own sense of powerlessness. Despite us demanding change, it feels as though we are shouting into an empty void.”
I got 5 paid days off when my child was born. I couldn’t afford to take any more unpaid time off and I didn’t yet qualify for California Paid Family Leave because I was just an intern.

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Better working environments

When we are cheap labor, our working conditions are not a priority to the hospital – meaning we get overlooked for vaccines, we sleep in hallway stretchers because there’s not enough call rooms, and we’re expected to shoulder the increased census from a new hospital without additional support.

Better patient care

It’s not safe or fair to patients that their on-call physician is overworked – and therefore underslept and emotionally exhausted – and has to finish up four other consults before they can even be seen. It’s not fair or safe for us either.


The GME Wellness survey revealed residents are experiencing more burnout now than during the rise of COVID. We have to take care of our patients, ourselves, and our families, and often we’re not given the time or resources to do all three. We can’t fix burnout by telling people to be more resilient. We need to fix the root institutional issues.

And a seat at the table

We can’t get any of this done unless we stand together and demand it from the hospital. Our union gives us bargaining power, but unless we leverage our power sustainably, the hospital will just keep ignoring us until we tire out or graduate.

Do you believe you deserve this in your contract? Want to help us win it? Then join your fellow housestaff as union members to increase our bargaining power and win a contract as excellent as the care we provide our patients.

Join us!