DOCTORS-IN-TRAINING: See Support For Right To Unionize
"Boston Medical Center residents and interns fighting for the right to unionize got some strong support Friday from doctors, nurses and public health and union officials," while the hospital "received solid backing from teaching hospitals, educational institutions and medical specialty societies." The Committee of Interns and Residents, a "New York-based union," asked the National Labor Relations Board to allow 420 doctors-in-training at Boston Medical Center to unionize. The NRLB's Boston "office dismissed the residents' case in October ... but left the door open for appeal to the full board in Washington." Friday was the deadline for "the filing of papers in the appeal." The Boston Globe reports that the "closely watched case ... will affect physician training and patient care at US teaching hospitals."
"House staff need to have a voice," said Harry Franklin, general counsel for the Committee of Interns and Residents. However, the hospital "believes residents do not come under US labor law," according to BMC lawyer Steven Jacobs. "The hospital itself in not against unions. That's not our position at all. We feel that residents are primarily at the hospital to be trained as physicians rather than to earn a living. They are students, not employees," Stevens said. "Among the nine groups filing briefs in support of the residents and interns" were the "California Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, and [the] American Public Health Association." The groups supporting the hospital included the "Association of American Medical Colleges, [the] American Hospital Association, and [the] American Council on Education."
Stuck In The Middle
"[T]aking neither side," the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society filed "a separate brief laying out their position" to the NLRB Friday as well, the Boston Globe reports (Kong, 2/1). The associations' brief said that "residents have a unique status as participants in graduate medical education programs and should have the right to negotiate as a group about legitimate issues relating to patient care and resident well-being, but they should not have the right to strike." AMA Trustee Dr. William Mahood said, "The AMA and the MMS endorse the right of residents, fellow and interns to negotiate as a group with their respective training institutions on matters of patient care and resident well-being, without fear of retaliation" (release, 1/30). "It's not an either-or situation. Our view is they should have the right to negotiate as a group on patient care issues ... but they should not have the right to strike," said MMS President Dr. Allan Goroll (Boston Globe, 2/1).