UPDATE: June 3, 2022: Physician residents and interns notified the county they plan to strike from June 13 to June 15, according to a Thursday release from the union representing them.
The two sides were still unable to reach an agreement during a bargaining session Wednesday, according to the release.
- Residents and fellows at three Los Angeles hospitals have voted to authorize a strike, the union representing them said Tuesday.
- Of the voting members, 99% voted in favor of authorizing a strike after failing to reach a new bargaining agreement with Los Angeles County.
- The union alleges the county has rejected its proposals and has repeatedly canceled scheduled bargaining sessions. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services said delivering care would not "be possible without our Residents and Interns who help deliver best-in-class care." The department said negotiations are led by the county's chief executive.
The vote comes as healthcare workers across the country say they're burned out from serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two years.
The vote does not mean a strike will begin immediately. Union leaders must set a date and give the hospital a 10-day notice in writing before waging a work stoppage.
“The results of our vote show how committed we are across our hospitals and across our departments to taking this next step if we need to,” said Mahima Iyengar, a first-year internal medicine-pediatrics resident at LAC+USC Medical Center.
The Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of Service Employees International Union, represents more than 22,000 residents and fellows across the country, including those in Los Angeles.
The union is now working under an expired contract and said wages are a key issue, as the union pointed out that some first-year residents earn $14 per hour and work 80 hours each week.
The vote comes as inflation in the U.S. has hit a record high in 2022, increasing the cost of goods and services for American households.
The residents and fellows in Los Angeles are not alone in their labor disputes.
In May, hundreds of healthcare workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center walked off the job amid efforts to reach a new contract with management. Before that, nearly 5,000 nurses went on strike at two Stanford hospitals in Northern California.
Nurses are in high demand across the country as hospitals report being short on staff.
Partly due to the shortage, hospitals are paying more for labor than they were prior to the pandemic, and some of the nation's largest health systems have reported net losses for the three months of this year due to investment losses and pricier labor.
Los Angeles County operates four hospitals and 26 health centers and is one of the country's largest municipal-owned healthcare systems, according to the county.