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Loma Linda University Health Residents Attempting to Unionize


In a move that could have implications for Adventist health care systems across the United States, residents and fellows at Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) in California have begun the process of unionizing. 

On February 11, 2023, LLUH residents and fellows received an email announcing:

"For the past several years, a number of residents and fellow physicians have been working to improve our experience here at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC). With great excitement, we are pleased to announce that LLU residents and fellows have joined forces with the Union of American Physicians & Dentists (UAPD) to formally organize our house staff for greater collective bargaining to improve salaries and working conditions."

The email continued by stating that residents and fellows have begged for better working conditions, including fairer wages, call rooms, and meal and living stipends for years—but that the requests have been repeatedly denied, with hospital administration citing a lack of funding. The email alleged that hospital administration became willing to cater to "some, not all," of their requests only after learning that residents were organizing a union drive.

That February 11 email by the LLU House Staff organizing group was sent in response to an email from February 10, by CEO Trevor Wright, which detailed a $6 million initiative, including designated sleep rooms and assignments, a $5,000 per year housing allowance, and a $1,500 per year food allowance for the residents and fellows. According to the LLU House Staff organizing group, the changes were in the right direction but also could be perceived as an effort to manipulate the unionization process, a "first move of what is sure to be a pattern of actions on the part of hospital administration to thwart the formation of a union in the days to come."

While offers such as this are meant to be seen as an expression of support and empathy to us, they come too little and too late. If these offers were out of genuine concern for our welfare, they would have come years ago. It is our belief that the purpose of these offers is to undermine our ability to come together. 

The LLU House Staff explained that organizers were collecting union card signatures and had joined forces with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD). Once enough signatures were collected, they would file with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to initiate the official union voting process. The email concluded with a reassurance that if the mere news of the unionization effort could swiftly influence hospital administration, then united residents and fellows could exert even more power through collective bargaining.

Loma Linda and our surrounding communities depend on the labor of our resident physicians and fellows, who deserve fair treatment and respect akin to any other profession. With the help of UAPD, we look forward to fair negotiations to finally be compensated for our worth. Join us to collectively organize LLU house staff.

Just two days later on February 13, the LLU House Staff announced on their website that they had received enough signed union cards to file with the NLRB. 

Based on emails by Trevor Wright and Daniel Giang, vice president for Graduate Medical Education, LLUH administration holds the position that they can improve working conditions for their residents and fellows without union involvement. The Graduate Medical Education Office oversees LLUH's residency and fellowship programs.

On February 24, residents involved with the unionization effort held a press conference. As reported by the Southern California News Group, the residents were joined in support by a California state senator and former state senator.

"We will no longer tolerate your avoidance of resident wellness and patient care," said Jessica Muñoz, a second-year resident, in a clip shared by Beau Yarbrough of the Southern California News Group.

At the press conference, representatives shared that LLUH is one of many institutions seeking unionization, with the rate of suicide and burnout experienced by residents and fellows cited as a motivating factor.

When asked for comment, LLUH responded with a statement that the institution will comply with regulations regarding unionization.

Loma Linda University Health respects the rights and opinions of all our team members, which include medical residents and fellows who may want union representation and those who do not. We are committed to listening and advocating for our residents as we continue to provide a world-class educational experience that will prepare them for the next steps in their careers. Loma Linda University Health acts in accordance with the National Labor Relations Act and will continue to do so throughout this process.

The date of the official vote is not yet determined. 


Ezrica Bennett is a writer, public speaker, and coach based in Southern California.

Title image courtesy of Loma Linda University Health.

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