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March 2, 2021

UMass Medical School physicians in training unionize

Photo | Grant Welker UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester

Physicians in training at UMass Medical School have voted to unionize, joining a nationwide group that announced the vote on Tuesday.

Organizing efforts began in 2019 around concerns for residents having input on decisions on working conditions and patient safety and care, according to the Service Employees International Union's Committee of Interns and Residents, of which the vote made UMass residents and fellows a part. Doctors also said they were concerned about student debt, increased costs of living and an overwhelming patient workload that became apparent during spikes in cases during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Worcester school didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Fellows and residents are doctors who've completed their medical school education and have moved to the next stages of their physician training. The union, known as CIR, said 600 residents and fellows voted to be able to collectively negotiate contracts, including bargaining for better salaries and benefits.

The vote comes days after Milford Regional Medical Center nurses voted to form a union and as Saint Vincent Hospital nurses are slated to potentially strike as soon as March 8. Saint Vincent's administration and the union have been in ongoing talks in attempts to avoid a strike, and the hospital has said it will find other staffing to cover shifts in the event the strike takes place.

CIR says it represents more than 17,000 resident physicians and fellows. Among its member institutions are Boston Medical Center and the Cambridge Health Alliance.

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