UPDATED: Frequently Asked Questions about the New Contract

What does the UW Resident/Fellow Union at UW mean for me?
A Guide for Current UW Residents/Fellows and UW Medical Trainee Applicants

Why did the Residents at UW unionize?

Compared to other regional medical training programs, the University of Washington offered fewer benefits (including a lower salary, no free parking, less paid time off, and more limited moonlighting opportunities). As we are one of the largest training sites for physicians in the country, the housestaff felt these issues had to be addressed and the best mechanism to unionize. That’s why in the Fall of 2014 the Residents at UW overwhelmingly (>75%) voted to unionize.  See our website (www.uwresidents.com) for more details about our history and unionization process.


What is the Resident union?

The University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA) comprises of 1350 trainees and is the largest housestaff union in the US and represents approximately 20% of physicians in King County. Its leadership is made up entirely of Residents and Fellows, all volunteering their time. It has, at this point, no connection to any national union or labor organization. The goal of the union is to advocate for graduate medical trainees at the University of Washington and affiliated hospitals.


Why did we need a new contract?

The motivation behind unionization was to address the hardships faced by Residents/Fellows. Our new contract aims to address the basic needs of residents and their families, and mirrors adjustments and compensations made for other housestaff at similar academic centers.


Who is considered part of the union?

All graduate medical trainees who are participating in ACGME accredited training programs, or in research years that are specified as part of an ACGME accredited training program, at the University of Washington and its affiliated hospitals are part of the union.

What are the benefits of union membership?

The union has negotiated a new contract which, in addition to annual salary increases, will include significant new financial and non-financial benefits. The UWHA is your advocate, representing housestaff on all major UW committees and taking a role in defending residents in the grievance procedure.


What are the benefits of the new contract?

Our new contract features:

  • Salary Increase - 3% per year:

Old contract










  • Promotion of residents for research time (some residents will be immediately promoted by two pay grades)
  • Creation of a home call/housing stipend ($900 this year, $1150 the next two years) paid as a lump sum upon ratification of the contract

Old contract




  • Creation of a transportation/parking stipend ($750 per year) paid as a lump upon ratification of the contract
  • Payment of a ratification bonus paid as a lump sum upon ratification of the contract:

PGY 1-5

PGY 6-7

PGY 8, or promoted by one grade


  • Reimbursement for medical licenses, the USMLE step III licensing exam, and any required training courses (that are not provided by the residency programs):


2016: $830, 2017: $845

ACLS or PALS course

Cost varies (typically $150 - $250)

New WA State Medical License

$391 (in training license for interns)

$491 (full license for senior residents/fellows)

Renewal of WA State Medical License


Transition from In-training to full license



  • Creation of a professional development fund ($350/resident per year) to subsidize purchase of textbooks and other materials.
  • Creation of a bike transportation benefit ($50,000 per year distributed among all residents).
  • A trial child care benefit program (a trial program with $50,000 per year to be distributed among all residents).


Other non-financial benefits:

  • Continuation of current retirement plan and healthcare plans.
  • A mechanism whereby pregnant residents can request that overnight call be rescheduled during the third trimester of pregnancy; previously residents were often mandated to work overnight call shifts up until delivery.
  • A small increase in holiday leave (residents can request 2 additional paid holidays per year in accordance with WA state law).
  • A small increase in bereavement leave (one extra travel day).
  • A new extended paid leave provision (up to 12 weeks) for residents with serious medical problems.
  • A new moonlighting article guarantees the right to moonlight for all residents in all residency programs who meet basic eligibility criteria; this is a major improvement as previously some programs did not allow moonlighting.
  • A new just cause article affording protection from unfair termination.
  • A grievance procedure to allow residents to address changes in working conditions; there was previously no mechanism by which residents could do this.
  • A new health and safety provision, prohibiting UW from mandating residents to work in unsafe conditions.
  • An agreement that ensures that residents will continue to be represented on all major UW committees.


How will the childcare fund be allocated?

We are still determining the best application process and what the criteria to qualify will be. Unfortunately, the $50,000 is not sufficient to provide childcare for everyone so there will need to be a need-based allocation and/or lottery. If successful, we hope that this trial program can be expanded in future contract negotiations, so that it can provide benefit for more housestaff in the future. We will provide updates as the details of this process become available.


Does the $350 professional development fund replace other department specific funds?

No. Programs are explicitly encouraged to continue to provide larger funds if they already do so. Please notify the UWHA (uwha@uw.edu) if your program plans to eliminate a larger benefit. We will post list of programs that are cutting resident benefits on our website.


Will I continue to get reimbursed for meals at UWMC/HMC?

Yes. The current policy will continue without changes.


How will the reimbursement for medical licenses and board exams work?

The details of how this reimbursment will work are being worked out. Most likely this will require submission of a form and a receipt to the GME. We will provide updates as the details of this process become available.



Will reimbursement for USMLE and medical licenses be retroactive?

Yes. As of November 7, 2016 the UW has agreed that residents will be reimbursed for USMLE step III and WA state medical licenses from July 1, 2016 onwards.

Please notify the UWHA (uwha@uw.edu) if your program is refusing to reimburse.


What if my program does not want to reschedule call during the third trimester of pregnancy?

Please contact your UWHA representative and we can advocate on your behalf and utilize the new grievance procedure if necessary.

What are the union dues?

Union dues under the new contract will be 0.3% of the lowest paid residents salary, which is equal to $160 per year, or about $13 per month. To put this in context, these are the lowest dues of any union at UW and any resident union in the US. The new contract corresponds to a raise of about $13 per day. The union is willing to make arrangements with residents under financial hardship for whom the union dues are burdensome.

The vast majority of dues are spent on legal fees related to contract negotiations and legal representation for residents. UWHA is committed to transparency and will issue annual reports showing how your dues are spent. All UWHA executives are unpaid. The UWHA does not engage in any sort of political campaigning and has no connection to lobbyists.


Do I have to be part of the union?
No. Residents can instead opt to pay the fair use fee (which is the same amount at the union dues). All residents must pay either the union dues or a fair use fee instead.

How long is this contract good for?
The current contract is in effect until the end of 2018-2019 Academic Year (June 30, 2019). Negotiation of the following contract will start well in advance of this date (no later than January 1, 2019) for a new contract to take effect July 1, 2019.

So what’s next? When do I get my money?

Currently the contract has been finalized between the negotiations committees. The contract was recently ratified by an overwhelming majority. The timeline for implementation is:

  • November 1 – New CBA formally starts
  • November 1 – First day of increased salary
  • November 10 – Paycheck where lump sum payments (housing stipend, transportation stipent) will show up
  • November 26 – First paycheck reflecting the higher salary (covering 11/1-11/15 pay period)


What can I do to help?

We are likely to need more people to volunteer in the coming years, either as a member of the UWHA executive board or as a member of other UW committees. If you are interested in becoming involved please contact us at uwha@uw.edu.