Will a union prevent my program from giving additional benefits?

  • FAQ
  • No – this is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation, but rather ‘no specialty left behind’. CIR contracts regularly ensure that all housestaff receive the same base level of benefits regardless of program, but do not prevent departments from giving benefits on top of that (e.g. additional department-specific housing or meal stipends).
    • For example, you may hear that ‘program X at Y institution lost their housing stipend of $Z’ – if this actually occurred, it would usually have happened because the newly negotiated contract provided an increase of (at least) $Z that benefits housestaff in -all- programs
  • Additionally, removal of existing departmental benefits in retaliation to union organizing activity is illegal. 
  • The GME or individual departments may say that the union-negotiated contract is the “ceiling” and that departments are not allowed to give additional benefits – this union would have no interest in setting a ceiling for the amount of benefits housestaff may receive. Any decision to limit benefits would likely be a choice made by GME or the department.
    • For example – UCSF negotiated a specific clause (section E) to establish that their contract is the “floor”:

“Programs that provide or elect to provide additional benefits: Programs may provide funds to Residents and Fellows for educational purposes. It is not the intent of the University to reduce any benefits in place as of the effective date of this Agreement. Prior to making any reduction to said benefits, the University shall provide notice to the Union prior to implementation; and upon request by the Union the University shall meet and discuss the change.”

  • Many department-specific benefits are not protected by a contract and could be taken away at any time – we have seen examples of this happening prior to the union. Union representation means that we will at least have a voice in what happens to those benefits, and can negotiate for these to be protected by a contract.
    • Example – Santa Clara Valley has different call limits for each of its programs (IM, OB-GYN, radiology) (Section 12.1, page 22); different meal programs (OB-GYN gets more on their meal card while IM and rads preferred to have free department lunch) (Section 15.1, page 28), and specific educational allowances for radiology (Section 10.9, page 19)
    • Example – Mount Sinai Morningside preserved meal stipends for departments that gave more than the minimum instated by the contract (Article 4, page 5), and specified specific “short call” wages for the anesthesia department (Article 24, page 21-22)
    • Example – Kingsbrook (Brooklyn, NY) protected existing department-specific education/conference benefits for each program “as is the current practice” in their contract (Section 5, page 18-21)
  • This all depends on what our union members negotiate – we can only protect what we know about, which is why we want broad representation from all specialties on our eventual bargaining team. Get involved now to make sure your voice is heard!