Residents, fellows and UC system at bargaining standstill

Resident physicians and fellows working for UC San Francisco have been proudly caring for the people of the San Francisco Bay Area for decades. If you or a loved one has ever been to the emergency department, hospital wards or clinics of UCSF, the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Mission Bay or the San Francisco VA Medical Center, one of us has probably been your doctor.

Residents and fellows are graduated medical doctors completing a few years of specialty postgraduate training, and we provide most of the patient care in these hospitals.

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, to continue to live in the Bay Area and serve patients well, we need more support from UCSF than they currently give us.

UCSF Residents and fellows formed a union that was officially recognized by UCSF in the spring of 2017. We are continuing to work with UCSF toward a fair contract. What we are asking of them can be boiled down to living wages and benefits that allow us to continue providing excellent patient care.

The cost of living in San Francisco is high. This is not news. Unfortunately, our salary has not kept up, and many of us do not have the option to move outside of San Francisco because of our responsibilities. We work at multiple clinical sites in San Francisco, and after spending 16 hours or more in the hospital each day, commuting long distances out of the city gets in the way of having enough sleep. Many residents find that they cannot afford to live in San Francisco, and those residents that live outside The City can tell you how chronically sleep deprived they feel and how it affects their day to day. Paying residents well enough to afford to live in San Francisco will mean not only a better quality of life for us but also safer and more effective care for our patients.

We are also struggling with the lack of reasonable benefits for having and raising families.

Currently, UCSF only provides two weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave. Since San Francisco’s more reasonable requirement of six weeks of paid family leave does not apply to us, the only option we have is to use all of our vacation and sick leave. Childcare at UCSF also costs residents and fellows more than $30,000 per year.

Residents and Fellows have spent more than 8 years in school, research, and other careers before starting to work as physicians, many of us deferring the possibility of children later than we might have wished for. We do not believe that it is fair for us to be expected to put having a family on hold because of inadequate compensation and benefits. Any contract we agree to must support those of us starting families.

After months of stalled negotiations, our union had no choice but to file an Unfair Practice Charge with the State of California due to UCSF demonstrating a lack of commitment to bargaining. Despite these difficulties, Residents and Fellows remain committed to working with UCSF in this process. We ask you to support us in demanding that UCSF work with us in earnest to come to a reasonable agreement: one that will help both us and patients across the Bay Area.

Dr. Aneesh Nandam works in UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry

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