UWHA Rally Regarding Fair Bargaining Times


Your doctors refuse to compromise patient care!!!

When: Thursday, April 18 from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Where: UW Link light rail station near Husky Stadium
Why: UW is demanding that your doctors cancel your appointments or swap out providers to negotiate our contracts during business hours. Your doctors are refusing because that compromises patient care. We want to negotiate exclusively after hours, which has been the norm for 40+ previous meetings and for resident unions nationally.
What: A rally to urge UW to change their position for the sake of patient care. You will hear directly from your doctors as to why UW’s position hurts you.

Who we are
We are the University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA), a labor union representing nearly 20% of physicians and dentists in King County. The UWHA is run by UW doctors. We are the people caring for you in the emergency room, spending time with you in clinic, performing your surgeries, and reading your X-rays. We love what we do, but we pay a price for this job. Many of us work 80 hour weeks and 28 hour shifts for what amounts to minimum wage. We carry an average debt burden of over $190,000. And due to years of harsh working environments, we suffer high rates of depression, suicide, and the incredibly prevalent burnout syndrome. Because of the medical training process, we are locked into these residency positions with virtually no freedom to leave or change jobs. As such, we unionized in 2014 to advocate for resident physician working conditions.

The issue
The UW is now demanding that we leave clinical duties to negotiate our contracts. No one wants to see an unfamiliar doctor at the last minute-- and there will often be no one available to substitute for us. Appointments will be cancelled or postponed. Negotiating during business hours will be tremendously disruptive for patient care, which is why the UWHA is drawing the line. Evening negotiation on our own free time is the national standard for resident unions, and was the standard at UW for over 40 meetings until this year. We believe that our patients should not suffer any harm to them as a result of bargaining. We have sworn an oath to always put our patients first, which should be in alignment with UW’s stated values.

Won’t bargaining after hours be tremendously difficult for UW?
No. Since 2014, both parties agreed to meet exclusively after hours, more than 40 times, for the sake of protecting patient care. This has not been a barrier in the past, and should not be an excuse to take doctors away from their patients.

Why is this rally necessary?
This is a last resort. Over a period of 3 months, we have appealed to UW leadership at every level and have found no support.

The timeline:

December 2018 - January 2019: UW refuses to hold any bargaining sessions during evenings or weekends unless we agree to hold meetings during business hours as well. UWHA meets with UW numerous times regarding this issue, and UW stands firm.

February - March 2019: UWHA approaches the dean supervising all UW residencies and relays our concerns about patient care. He refers us to UW’s lawyers. Our members then contact our immediate supervisors, all of whom are doctors, to express our concerns. Our supervisors advocate for us. UW threatens to sue us for talking to our supervisors. UW then prohibits our supervisors from working with us on this issue. We then appeal to department chairs, all of whom are doctors. They advocate for us as well, but UW ignores them and refers us back to their lawyers.

March 19, 2019: We send a letter to the UW President appealing to her. She refers us to the UW lawyers.

March 28, 2019: Over 500 of our members sign a petition for after-hours bargaining to protect patient care. The petition is delivered during a meeting with the CEO of UW Medical Center. He acknowledges that patients should come first but declines to help and instead refers us to UW lawyers.

March 30, 2019: UWHA has now appealed to everyone possible at UW, and decides to appeal to the public for support.

What can I do?
Attend our rally to send a message to UW that patients should always come first. Spread the word and share this page to others.

What if I have more questions?
Please feel free to email execboard@uwhousestaff.com