UW Leaders Put Personal Schedules Above Patient Care

For the past 3 years, GME and UWHA have held all negotiating sessions and most other meetings at night, in order to accommodate the busy schedules of housestaff and to avoid pulling residents away the patients they are taking care of. Sadly, Graduate Medical Education (GME) and Labor Relations (LR) have now decided to prioritize getting themselves home early above patient and housestaff wellbeing.

To explain the situation in greater detail: During our last round of contract negotiations we held over 30 meetings after hours (meaning after 6pm). This was an inconvenience for both sides but was the only time that the parties could meet. Since contract negotiations subsequent meetings between UWHA and GME have started at 5:30pm. Ultimately, these sessions were very productive resulting in the CBA and many other compromises. Meeting after hours was essential to ensure that residents are able to care for patients and to meet productively with management.

Recently, GME/LR has taken the position that meetings can only be held during normal clinical hours (9am-5pm) regardless of the effects on patients or housestaff. In the words of the assistant director of LR, "I can tell you right now unequivocally that all of the bargaining for the next CBA will not take place in the evening; there will be bargaining during normal business hours and there will be whole days of bargaining." LR is trying to impose this restriction now before we even get to our next round of negotiations.

GME seems indifferent to the malignant effects of their position, including:

  1. Interrupting the work day, resulting in increased signouts/transitions of care, potentially exposing our patients to harm.
  2. Requiring residents to cancel half or full-day clinics thus limiting patient opportunities to be seen.
  3. Missed learning opportunities for housestaff, compromising the educational mission of the training program.
  4. Requiring residents to take excessive leave from training, which can result in resident’s experiencing a delay in completion of training depending on how much leave is needed for these meetings.
  5. Greatly limiting the ability of residents to participate in union business effectively censoring some specialties such as surgical specialties.

Not only is GME's position bad for patients, residents, and their programs, but it is also highly unusual. To give you all an idea of how unusual GME's position is, we reached out to housestaff unions at other institution (Mass General, UCSD, Michigan) who told us that 100% of their meetings are held at night, after hours. We also spoke to CIR - who represent over 40 housestaff unions – and they confirmed that for over 90% of those unions meetings are held at night, and for the remaining 10% of unions the vast majority of the meetings are held at night.

It's not that residents want to stay late - we would like to get home to our families - but after hours meetings are the only safe and responsible way for the UWHA and GME to meet to discuss the issues affect our residents. Join us in demanding that, for the sake of our patients, GME leadership and LR stay past 5pm to meet with residents.