General House Staff in Los Angeles Demonstrate at Keck’s Commencement

Two residents are standing holding a banner that says "We Fight for Resident Doctors: Fair Contracts Now!"
Protesters distributed about 1,000 leaflets to graduates and their relatives at the Keck School of Medicine graduation ceremony at the Galen Center on Saturday afternoon. (Morgan Callier)

As contract negotiations continue, six Los Angeles Comprehensive Program residents and fellows staged a demonstration Saturday afternoon at the commencement ceremony of the Keck School of Medicine. Dormitory staff, represented by the International Trade Union Committee for Interns and Residents and Service Employees, sought to inform medical students and their families about the union’s efforts to increase wages and benefits.

Residents and fellows employed by KSOM, who work on rotation at several hospitals, including Keck Hospital, Los Angeles General Medical Center and Cedars Sinai, are the first to do so since October after forming a union last May. contract negotiations continue. The KSOM House Staff Negotiation Team hopes to obtain compensation comparable to that of staff employed by LA County. In November, the CIR/SEIU told KSOM that it had filed an unfair labor practices lawsuit after the school refused to pay wages and benefits to employed LA County residents who, on average, received $10,000 more for the same job. filed an indictment.

The flyers distributed on Saturday drew attention to the fact that KSOM’s resident medical students, who will be employed from July, do not yet know how much they will be paid, as the contract has not yet been decided or ratified. rice field.

“They don’t know what the housing allowance will be. They don’t know if they’ll get the same medical benefits as everyone else. [L.A. County-paid] residents. I don’t know if they’ll be able to take parental leave,” said Dr. Francis Gill, a second-year psychiatric resident at LA General, who is employed by LA County. “That’s because Keck Medical School is really sabotaging their negotiations.”

According to Gill, the graduation seemed like a time to highlight wage differences between the two groups of residents participating in the program and send a message to KSOM that “this isn’t going to work.” The residents who held the demonstration handed out about 1,000 leaflets to the graduates and their relatives.

Gill said six weeks of parental leave was a key proposition put forward by KSOM’s house staff negotiators, but KSOM didn’t want to give up on it. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires hosting institutions to provide house staff with at least six weeks of her medical, parental, and caregiver leave. Gill said Los Angeles County honors this guarantee with its employees, but wants residents employed by KSOM to write it into their contracts.

Dr. Melissa Mio, a negotiating team member and obstetrician-gynecologist, said the KSOM counter-proposed to combine sick days and leave to supplement parental leave, rather than designating separate leave.

“Essentially, we’re trying to figure out what the bare minimum can be in a contract,” Mio said. “What if you get sick and need to use those things? And the answer, of course, is that you won’t be paid.

House staff employed by KSOM are also seeking increased medical benefits for residents and fellows on par with their colleagues employed by LA County. Mio’s team said they suggested KSOM implement a rebate program that the County of Los Angeles has in place to buffer health insurance costs. Los Angeles County residents and fellows are given a monthly amount to cover their insurance premiums. Put the unused portion in your pocket.

“The answer we received was ‘No, we can’t do that,'” Mio said.

Mio said she heard from KSOM during negotiations that the contracts of many staff employed by the school should be on par. But it makes sense to provide KSOM residents and fellows with different medical benefits than KSOM administrative staff because they have different jobs and work different hours, she said. said. Mio said many residents are in the hospital for up to 80 hours a week, providing both patient care and training for rotating medical students.

Mio has been in the negotiations since they began in October, but she may not understand the salary and benefits offered in the negotiations. If she graduates before her new contract is approved, I don’t know if she will graduate before July, when new residents join the program, but she “gets nothing out of the effort.” It cannot be done. [the team has] please put it in. ”

“For the past year, we’ve been paid unequal salaries and they’re reluctant to the idea of ​​giving back what we owe,” said Mio, who is employed by KSOM and LA County. Talked about the pay gap for house staff. After the latter group ratified a deal last June that included salary increases and increased housing benefits.

For Mio, Saturday’s action and contract negotiations are part of the bigger picture. She wants to make life better for junior residents when they join the residency program.

House staff also conducted a flyer demonstration at the annual KSOM Matchday in March, similarly informing new house staff of the pay inequality between the two employers in the LA General Program. Mio said he has been working to “move things forward” by demonstrating negotiations and raising awareness.

“If it falls out of place and people don’t see it happening anymore, you can get away with delaying things because no one is taking it seriously,” Mio said. Told. “In the future…it is not unthinkable that they would be so upset that they threatened to attack.”

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