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Loma Linda University Health Residents File to Unionize

Resident physician Dr. Jessica Munoz speaking to the crowd at Friday's press conference.
Madison Aument
Resident physician Dr. Jessica Munoz speaking to the crowd at Friday's press conference.

On Feb. 13, more than 800 resident and fellow physicians at Loma Linda University Health filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize. Organizers are demanding the health network’s administration does more to provide better support for physicians.

Physicians have cited long hours, unsafe working conditions and low wages as reasons they filed to unionize. They are represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), which has more than 5,000 members.

Today, they gathered for a press conference at Loma Linda University to announce their unionization efforts. Loma Linda residents were joined by UAPD President Dr. Stuart Bussey and former California State Senators Bob Hertzberg and Dr. Richard Pan.

Dr. Jessica Munoz is a second year resident in the emergency room at Loma Linda. She says she feels defeated by the working conditions at Loma Linda.

“My first week as an intern, I worked 120 hours. That week, I would triple the amount of hours that I slept. I knew I signed up to sacrifice in the name of medicine, but I was no longer able to care for myself. As a second year resident, the broken parts of our healthcare system are much more apparent,” said Munoz.

Munoz continued, “The resident physicians at Loma Linda need to be heard. And we need a union to advocate for our needs and the needs of our patients.”

Residents allege that Loma Linda does not provide sleeping quarters for overnight hospital shifts and say some physicians are scheduled to work up to 120 hours per week. They allege that burnout and stress has led to increased mental health issues including suicide, moral injury and decreased quality of patient care.

“It's been a while as you can see that I was a resident at UC Irvine. I made $23,000 A year and I worked 100 hours a week. You guys, it's not much better for you,” said UAPD President Stuart Bussey.

Union organizers are asking for a safe working environment to serve the Inland Empire, fair compensation that meets cost of living requirements and is also commensurate with other similar large academic hospitals in the state and shorter work weeks.

But not all of Loma Linda’s physicians want to unionize.

Resident pediatrician Dr. Charlene Wang said she’s worried how a union would affect Loma Linda’s Seventh Day Adventist mission.

“The mission of this hospital is to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ. If there's a union present and the union doesn't hold the same mission and values as us, it will undermine the administration from ultimately performing their mission,” said Wang.

In an email, a spokesperson for Loma Linda University Hospital said:

Loma Linda University Health respects the rights and opinions of all our team members, which include medical residents and fellows who may want union representation and those who do not. We are committed to listening and advocating for our residents as we continue to provide a world-class educational experience that will prepare them for the next steps in their careers. Loma Linda University Health acts in accordance with the National Labor Relations Act and will continue to do so throughout this process.”