By Sheri Williams
Resident physicians at UC Davis are fighting for a contract and a fair housing allowance, exposing that high rents are keeping diverse doctors and medical providers from working at the public health care giant.
In April, with the support of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, residents and fellow physicians held a “Unity Break” to call attention to the 18-month fight for a contract.
“While UC Davis claims to champion diversity in recruiting doctors to residency, these claims are empty without tangible support,” said Manny Garcha, Neurology Resident physician at UCD. “Our under-served community members deserve the same great healthcare, provided by doctors who reflect their diverse backgrounds and can empathize with their experiences.”
The resident doctors are fighting for a housing allowance that can enable them to live in the communities they serve. In Sacramento, rents have skyrocketed in recent years with some of the fastest growth in the nation, while access to affordable housing has shrunk. “Intentionally or not, the UC Davis Health administration has perpetuated an elitist and exclusionary policy by underestimating resident housing costs by nearly 75%. A studio rents for $1400, while administrators have insisted that 1-bedroom apartments can be found at $800 per month,” pointed out in a release by the residents’ organization, Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU (CIR/SEIU).
UC Davis disputed the claims in a statement, and said the institution values its diverse residents.
The university is currently offering residents about $170 per month toward housing, or $2,000 total. Residents are asking for $5,500, a figure they say is proportionally similar to what UC’s in other areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco offer. Residents are required to live close to the hospital to be available if needed. The residents committee said it has engaged in more than 30 bargaining sessions since forming a union a year and a half ago but has been unable to come to an agreement.
“Resident and Fellow physicians at UC Davis have served Sacramento valiantly throughout the pandemic. Exhausted after their 80-hour work week, they continue to come to the table to negotiate with hospital administration,” a statement read. “The UC Davis Health staff seek to achieve a fair contract for themselves, and all future medical residents who will serve Sacramento.”
The doctor’s committee is continuing to negotiate with UC Davis, with the support of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.
“The members the Labor community stand with you, stand alongside you,” said SCLC executive director Fabrizio Sasso.
Sasso said that the Labor Council has been fighting for affordable housing in Sacramento, helping pass a rent control ordinance recently. It is a fight he said the Council will continue to wage.
“We see that UC Davis is building housing that employees and the community won’t be able to afford,” he said. “You are the providers that have been here throughout the entire pandemic. You are residents and you are interns, but this isn’t a hazing, this is your career. And they are saying you don’t deserve what you are asking for. Why should you be paid less, why should you struggle to ensure a decent standard of living for you and your family? This is really the greed that fuels capitalism and doesn’t respect you or your families.”