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Monday, June 1, 2009

St. Barnabas Residents Seeking to Form Union

Photo by Alma Watkins

Resident doctors at St. Barnabas Hospital are trying to form a union, citing safety concerns, low pay, bad equipment, too few nurses and other staff and a recent cut to health and disability benefits for the hospital’s non-union employees. The hospital has challenged the residents’ petition to unionize, arguing at the National Labor Relations Board that the residents are students, not employees. The Board rejected that argument in a ruling on May 22. St. Barnabas has announced it plans to appeal the decision.

On Friday, residents joined organizers and staff from the Committee of Interns and Residents for a press conference asking St. Barnabas to abide by the ruling. They were joined by Assembly members Jose Rivera and Michael Benjamin and Crotona Community Coalition board members Andrea Dozier and John Taylor in the D’auria-Murphy Triangle, across from the hospital.

“I have a vested interest because I go to this hospital, I go to this clinic. We need them,” said Dozier, whose doctor, Mahesh Dangal, was one of the residents holding a sign behind her as she spoke.

St. Barnabas declined to comment beyond a short public statement, which reads in part:

Our stance against the unionizing of residents is not about being
anti-union - in fact St. Barnabas Hospital prides itself on being a
union-friendly shop - but instead has to do with fundamental and
philosophical differences over our view of residents as students, not
employees. From our perspective, they are in an educational training
program and so, as students in training, are not covered by the
National Labor Relations Act.

1 comment:

  1. This is a disingenuous argument. The NLRB has long held that medical residents are both students and employees. I expect all employers to respect their employees' right to unionize, but I especially expect Catholic institutions, like St. Barnabas, to live out the social teachings of the Catholic Church and allow their employees to form unions if they wish.


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