No! Stanford administration is claiming that “this direct relationship between our physician trainees and their clinical departments will change should our residents and fellows unionize because that relationship will then be between Stanford Health Care and the union”.
As housestaff, why would we want our union to interfere with productive conversations between housestaff and their departments? The housestaff lead our union, not third-party organizers, and we understand what works best for our individual programs (and that each program is very different).
As a union, we can have labor-management meetings, where labor (union housestaff representatives) and management (hospital administration/GME representatives) sit down together – this can be viewed as “continuous bargaining” that continues even after a contract is negotiated.
- Labor-management meeting schedules and agendas are based on what the housestaff find useful and effective (e.g. monthly or bimonthly).
- Not everything has to go through labor-management meetings! Housestaff should continue to communicate with their departments. If both parties come to a solution (e.g. switching call schedules to night float), then there is no need to go through a formal process!
- If housestaff and programs are unable to come to a solution independently, then this can be put on the agenda for a labor-management meeting.
Many program directors at other unionized residencies (e.g. UCSF) have found the regularly-scheduled labor management meetings helpful, especially in cases where they are running into limitations from management. Since these meetings call all parties to the table and hold hospital leadership accountable, they can facilitate expeditious resolution.
Bottom line – the goal of the union is to strengthen relationships between housestaff and their programs so that we can have more power to negotiate together with the hospital leadership.
The only change this means is that programs must talk to their residents before making changes that affect their working conditions. As long as everyone involved is informed and agrees, our union does not need to get involved.