More than 1,000 UChicago Medicine residents, fellows move to unionize

Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

A group of more than 1,000 residents and fellows at UChicago Medicine is taking steps to unionize, following a recent, similar effort by peers at Northwestern Medicine.

The doctors filed a petition Monday morning with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a formal election to decide whether to unionize under the Committee of Interns and Residents, a union representing resident physicians and fellows. Residents often work at hospitals after earning medical degrees, as they train to become specific types of doctors. Fellows are doctors pursuing additional training after their residencies.

The residents and fellows have also asked the university to voluntarily recognize their union. UChicago Medicine did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

The residents and fellows are overworked and underpaid, according to the Committee of Interns and Residents, which is part of the Service Employees International Union. They often work more than 80 hours a week, and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, according to the committee. The residents and fellows would also like more say in decisions that affect patient care.


“Working at the trauma center, which the community fought for years to open, made it clear we needed a seat at the table to advocate for ourselves and our patients,” said Dr. Nicholas Kowalczyk, a nephrology fellow at UChicago Medicine, in a news release. “By unionizing, we will have the power to negotiate with the hospital for the support and resources we need to provide comprehensive care for our patients.”

The move to unionize comes about two months after a majority of 1,300 residents and fellows at Northwestern Medicine voted in favor of union representation by the Committee of Interns and Residents. A few years earlier, in 2021, more than 800 residents, fellows and interns at University of Illinois at Chicago formed a union under the Committee of Interns and Residents.

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