A union is a membership-driven, democratic organization formed by employees to advocate for common interests such as wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. By joining together and forming a union, workers gain a powerful voice that strengthens their ability to negotiate with their employer about their concerns.
Having a union would allow UB residents to collective bargaining power and “have a seat at the table” in decisions that affect us as a group. Typically, unions are able to use their collective power to negotiate for higher wages, better health insurance, vacation days, paid sick leave, retirement benefits, and other changes to improve working conditions.
UAPD is the union that UB will be working with to further enhance our collective bargaining. Founded by a private practice physician in 1972, UAPD has grown into the largest union representing licensed doctors and advanced practice clinicians in the United States. UAPD members work for state and county government, large healthcare organizations, small non-profit clinics, and private practice. Affiliated with AFSCME and the AFL-CIO, UAPD brings the strength of the labor movement to the aid of medical professionals in the interest of better medicine for all.
UAPD has over 50 years of experience. Learn more here.
Yes! Several residencies have unionized and over 24,000 residents across the country are represented by a union, with that number growing every year.
Very well! For example, USC residents recently unionized and were able to negotiate for a 12% raise over 3 years, a housing stipend of $10,000, and funds for diversity training initiatives.
Members-At-Large support the union during the collective bargaining process with a voluntary dues payment of $477. Members-at-Large are voting members of UAPD until contract ratification (about a year). Members-at-Large at UB will also get added benefits, which will be announced this spring.
- You will be represented by UPAD for collective bargaining of your new contract and future contracts
- You will receive salary and benefits based on our first ratified contract
- You will have a vote in union business matters
- You will have access to member benefits outside of the contract (i.e. CME training for interns, etc.)
- You will have legal representation should your employer breach your contract
- You will have access to UAPD representatives for workplace grievances
- You will have the lowest dues of any doctors union (0.9% of your annual salary, deducted automatically each paycheck)
Under the National Labor Relations Act, it is against the law to harass, discipline, and/or fire a worker who wants to form a union. If you are harassed by management or incur any disciplinary action based on your legal right to form a union, the UAPD will defend you. If local representatives cannot resolve an issue, when appropriate, the union has a legal team who will file an Unfair Labor Charge against the discriminating party.
If your employer calls you in, you are not obligated to discuss any union activity with them. Respectfully let them know you are not comfortable discussing this topic with them.
Weingarten Rights go into effect immediately after a union receives a majority of votes in a representation election. In our case, around April.
Yes, all employees who unionize are protected. Variables such as nationality, visa status, or citizenship do not affect your legal rights and protections when unionizing. Your protections are secured under the NLRB/Weingarten because you are an employee of UMRS.
Under the National Labor Relations Board, your visa status will NOT be affected. The legal protections of the NLRB extend to all employees of UMRS, including foreign nationals, employees on visa status, and non-US citizens.
The only parties that will know you signed a union card are the UAPD and the NLRB. Neither UB, its affiliates, UMRS, your program director, or anyone in UB-affiliated hospitals will know you signed a union card unless you specifically share that information.
There are 2 types of dues:
- Member at large dues (voluntary)
- Union dues
After a union has been formed and before an improved contract has been negotiated, members can voluntarily pay “member at large” dues. Members-At-Large support the union during the collective bargaining process with a voluntary dues payment of $477. Members-at-Large are voting members of UAPD until contract ratification (about a year). Members-at-Large at UB will also get added benefits, which will be announced this spring.
Union dues would only be paid after a new, improved contract is negotiated with UMRS. The dues at UAPD are 0.9%, significantly lower than most other unions. This will be paid after a new contract is negotiated, which includes improved wages and working conditions. The net benefit received by residents (through improved wages and benefits) would significantly outweigh the 0.9% union dues.
We need your support! You are still an employee of UMRS and your voice matters. Signing the union card signifies support for your colleagues and future residents and fellows while creating no risk for you. These cards are confidential; no employer, present or future, will ever know you signed it. Additionally, you will not be required to pay any union dues, as union dues are collected after a new contract has been negotiated.
For more details on dues, please see the other question “How much do I have to pay” above. UAPD’s union dues are 0.9% of salary, to be automatically deducted from paychecks after a new contract is negotiated. UAPD posts its accounting statement, and we encourage you to peruse its website to understand its mission statement and how it aligns with ours. UAPD incurs fees to help run the organization, which includes legal staff, organizational staff, and administrative staff. The legal protections you gain from joining a union and the legal representation UAPD provides you are paid for by your union dues. The attorneys that will be used to defend you and your rights will be paid for by your dues. They also review our contracts and, alongside residents, negotiate improved contracts with UB/UMRS. UAPD also runs new campaigns, meets with legislatures, helps support union activities, and pays for other membership perks.
This is a great question and not one that is set in stone yet. Thus far, we have asked for a voluntary contribution from specialties to help in discussion efforts. We have had people voluntarily step up from most of the large programs, but we need more help! If you don’t know of anyone from your program that you can ask questions to and want to become involved, reach out to us! The great thing about forming our own union is that we get to create these platforms from the ground up. It is house staff created and house staff led. We are discussing whether to continue with the voluntary model versus doing democratic votes.
Once a union is formed, typically a few residents will become union representative liaisons. Each rep would be from a different residency with the goal of having as many programs represented as possible.
This is a great question and one that is in the works of refining. We, as UB residents, will have complete control to define our priorities. We are encouraging YOU to speak out and let us know what is important to you. Through surveys and talks with many of you, our most important priority is achieving pay parity with equivocal programs across the region. This is unanimously the number 1 priority. UAPD has a history of negotiating strong contracts for residents that are significantly improved than the current contracts at UB.
Equally important is to educate and empower our members to advocate for dignity and respect. We want to create the foundations for an organization with integrity and empathy to improve working conditions for house staff that outlasts the transient workers we represent. Other key ideas include items to improve working conditions, such as universal expansion of education funds, providing meal stipends, housing stipends, retirement benefits, and hazard pay. Other unionized programs in the country receive $6,000-10,000 housing stipends in addition to their salaries (which fare higher than UB’s).
We continue to encourage your ideas. Please tell us what is important to you.
Unions are only as strong as their members demand. UAPD provides resources and knowledge to help groups organize, legal resources to protect your rights and bargain to improve working conditions, but they DO NOT take the place of residents. You may have already been aware of the advocacy work that residents have already put in this year. This is what we want to help cement in place for ourselves and future residents by unionizing. There is no outcome guarantee that any union can make. What it does is level the playing field. What its members put in is what you get out. With weak leadership or vision, you run the risk of membership dues being pulled without any benefit. This has historically not been the case with residencies who have formed unions. Unionizing is about giving us power. The more involved its members are, the stronger and unified our voice will be.
No. No individual at UB, UMRS, or its affiliates will see your individual names or signatures. This includes GME, program directors, attendings, co-residents, peer union organizers, or any member of the affiliate hospitals.
The only parties that will see your individual signed cards are the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) administrative staff and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). These cards will not be distributed to any employers, present or future, and will be kept strictly confidential.
Currently, this unionization effort is for UMRS employees only. If you are a resident who is employed by UDRS and are interested in organizing, please reach out to Rachel Flores (UAPD Organizing Director) at [email protected].
Please continue to sign the upcoming year’s contract as you would normally. Upon obtaining a “win” in the general election, UAPD and UB residents will negotiate for a fair and just contract for all UB interns, residents, and fellows.
This is a myth! Your votes via mail-in ballot are completely ANONYMOUS and CONFIDENTIAL. You will receive mail-in ballots starting April 12, 2023 via USPS. The ballots you receive will be de-identified, anonymous, and coded with numbers. These ballots are mailed out by the federal government, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and will be returned to the federal government. No individual or entity will ever know what you voted for.
Department-specific benefits are protected by law and maintained in several ways.
It is illegal to remove benefits as retaliation for unionizing.
The National Labor Relations Act makes it illegal for employers to threaten employees with a reduction of benefits and worse working conditions in retaliation for employee efforts to unionize. During the unionization process, benefits are carefully documented to ensure they are not removed in violation of labor law. Reducing department-specific benefits in response to unionization would be a textbook case of retaliation by the employer and would constitute illegal behavior.
Unionization raises, not lowers, the common denominator.
Yes, all residents get to vote on the initial contract prior to ratification.
NO! This is an absolute myth utilized as a union-busting tactic. No residency programs have seen their training extended due to joining a union. If you meet all of the graduation requirements for your specific program, then you are eligible to graduate. The presence of a union is irrelevant to your graduation requirements.
If you are threatened to extend your training by joining a union, please contact us. We will pursue legal action as this is unlawful behavior outlined by NLRB Sections 7 and 8, constituting retaliatory behavior.
Our residency program is unique in that UMRS does not own a health system. Rather, UMRS is designated as a professional corporation (PC) that provides professional services. Resident salaries are paid for by the US federal government. The unique challenges that we anticipate facing are that we will be negotiating with hospital leadership for improvements in our wages, benefits, and working conditions. Since UMRS does not own the hospitals, we will not be directly negotiating with UMRS.
Our current benefits will act as the “floor”. We will not lose any benefits as a result of unionizing. In fact, the NLRB has gone as far to state that the removal (or diminishment) of benefits upon joining a union is considered retaliatory in nature and unlawful. Our current benefits become the “floor” and we can only add or improve benefits after unionization.
Higher salaries, housing stipends, meal stipends, retirement contributions, child care, hazard pay, and improvements to moonlighting. Please fill out your priorities here.
A union will not alter inter-departmental variation. Each department is unique in that has varied needs from other departments. You will continue to have your departmental benefits with a union. Program directors maintain flexibility to add benefits for their department in a unionized residency program. Additionally, what you currently have becomes the “floor”. It is unlawful – and considered retaliatory – if your department removes benefits after joining a union. That means if your program already pays for board exams, then your program has to continue paying for board exams in the future.
After a union is established, the contract negotiating process will begin. We are anticipating the contract negotiations to take anywhere from 6-12 months.
Report Union Busting
Union busting is an illegal tactic taken by employers or administrators to dismantle a worker’s right to collectively organize. Despite this tactic being illegal, employers take on individuals to “intimidate” them or “woo” them ultimately for the purpose of busting unionizing efforts. Anonymously report any tactics taken by UB or its affiliates to prevent unionization so that we can protect your rights.