What’s a unity break?

  • FAQ

Stanford housestaff union - unity break on July 19 at 12 PM, at Welch and Pasteur, on a purple background.

What: A unity break is where we stand in solidarity with not only our fellow housestaff, but other healthcare workers and community/political allies. A unity break is not a strike or work stoppage. 

Why: As a union, our strength comes from collective action and solidarity. A unity break is a strategic way to address and bring awareness to a particular issue by having a group of workers come together on their break to stand in solidarity. Many housestaff unions (ex: UCLA) have held unity breaks during their contract negotiations to call for movement at the bargaining table, and have included other labor groups (e.g. unionized nurses and service workers) present to show their support, and media outlets to publicize their efforts in the press.

Together we can build a better medical training environment for ourselves, our families, our patients and future physicians. That all starts when SHC stops the delay tactics and invests in the doctors who take care of their patients through our first contract.

Stand with us to let SHC know that we won’t rest until we have the contract we need and deserve to care for ourselves and our patients .

When: Wednesday, July 19th, 12 PM – 1:30 PM (come by for as long or as short as you are able to!) 

Where: Welch Road and Pasteur Drive (in front of the Stanford Medicine sign)

How is a Unity Break different from a strike?
A unity break is not a strike! Unlike a strike, during a unity break, housestaff are not withholding their labor or in any way refusing to work. A unity break is typically 30 minutes long, and housestaff can participate on their own time during breaks, days off, or before/after a shift. 

How would this work with our schedule?
Follow all normal policies and make sure that your patient care assignments are covered before participating in the unity break.
If you are done with rounds, have break during clinic, are waiting for turnover between cases in 300P, or otherwise the floor is quiet, come out to join the unity break!

You can also:

  • Rotate with your colleagues to take turns joining the unity break.
  • If you have normal work breaks such as in anesthesia, ask your attending to cover you at a time overlapping with the unity break.
  • If there are other situations in which you typically hand off your pager to an attending/other team member, ask them to hold the pager while you step out to join the unity break.

Why should I support a Unity Break?
We can only win a contract that we deserve if we all come together. Our bargaining team cannot win alone, and one way to support negotiations is for us to show Stanford that we are united behind our demands, and this is how we show them!

I can’t realistically attend due to patient care duties. How can I support?

We understand! You can share this information with your department/colleagues and ask them to sign up if they can attend, and show your union pride with stickers/buttons (e.g. wear a CIR button on your scrub cap in the OR!)

How can I participate from another site?

Fill out our unity break pledge and check the box that says “I want to participate, but I’m off site!” We will share information about ride transport to the unity break and other ways to participate at your site without traveling to SHC. 

Will I be punished for attending?
It is against federal law to retaliate against workers participating in Union activity. You have a right to organize with your colleagues. Be sure to follow all normal policies while taking a break and that, as usual, your patient care assignments are covered before participating in a unity break.


See photos and messages of support from our last Unity Break in May!