LOCAL NEWS

UW Medicine residents stage walkout at Seattle hospitals Wednesday

Feb 23, 2022, 10:34 AM | Updated: Feb 24, 2022, 9:31 am
COVID variant, Seattle, Skagit Valley Hospital, vaccination, UW Medicine...
In this Jan. 26, 2021, file photo, a respiratory therapist begins to put on protective equipment before going into a patient's room in the COVID intensive care unit at UW Medical Center-Montlake in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Hundreds of resident physicians in the UW Medicine system staged a walk out at Seattle-area hospitals and clinics Wednesday to ask for more pay and better treatment.

Tacoma nurse says it’s hard to provide level of care ‘patients deserve’ with low staffing

A physician told KIRO Newsradio earlier this week that the latest contract has no financial increase, and many say it’s unfair given the high cost of living in the region. They also say many of them make less than minimum wage, and are working up to 80 hours a week.

Dr. Amy Zhang, a resident physician and president of the Resident and Fellow Physician Union-Northwest, said Wednesday that most UW first-year residents qualify for housing subsidies, and many have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt.

“We’re usually working 60 to 80 hours a week, which is why it works out to approximately minimum wage hourly. We are essentially in the system of indentured servitude,” Zhang said.

Zhang said they were offered a 1% raise, but because inflation was more than 7% this past year, it really comes out to a decrease in pay.

During the pandemic, they are commonly working so many hours that they do not even get adequate time off to rest. Zhang said there are pregnant doctors who “are losing weight during pregnancy because they do not have enough time to eat or sleep.”

Trying to save a patient’s life while going on 24 hours of no sleep is a dangerous combination, Zhang said.

“This is bad for patient care and it’s bad for general public safety when we are being worked so much that we’re falling asleep on the job,” she said, adding, “We are making very critical decisions — this is a matter of life and death.”

She added that the system of being forced to work for relatively low pay for several years while having high student loan debt means that students from privileged backgrounds are more likely to become doctors.

“Especially for people from lower-income backgrounds, where you don’t have wealthy parents to pay off your tuition, you may graduate with more debt. … When you create a system where the only people who have access to higher education, where the only people who have access to medical training may be those from wealthier backgrounds who are disproportionately white, who are disproportionately male, and do not have childhood or household responsibilities, then you are creating a system that is very disadvantageous and inequitable to people from diverse backgrounds,” Zhang said.

She adds that the UW has not given them hazard pay, despite the fact that they have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, risking COVID-19 exposure for themselves and their loved ones.

The largest walkout was expected to be outside the UW Medical Center in Montlake at 12 p.m.

In a statement to KIRO Newsradio, UW Medicine had said it plans to continue to negotiate in good faith with the Resident and Fellow Physician Union-Northwest.

The union represents about 20% of practicing physicians in King County, according to a UW resident physician and union member who contacted KIRO Newsradio this week. More than 500 resident physicians at UW training sites across Seattle are expected to participate in the walk out Wednesday.

Read the full statement from UW Medicine below:

The University of Washington recently began bargaining with the Resident & Fellow Physician Union-Northwest (RFPU-Northwest) on our 2022-25 contract. We recognize residents’ and fellows’ right to assemble and to self-advocate, and have asked that participants adhere to our shared goal of professionalism while ensuring the safety of the patients we serve. To date, we have held 3 negotiation sessions. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the RFPU-NW. Labor Relations’ recaps of the bargaining sessions can be found here.

We value our residents and fellows as important members of our care teams. We are negotiating in good faith on a variety of issues as we continue to support our residents and all of our employees.

Local News

Lynnwood Clinic...
L.B. Gilbert

Lynnwood opioid clinic receives DOH license amid controversy

The Washington DOH just gave the final approval for a proposed opioid treatment clinic to open in Lynnwood.
10 hours ago
Judge, pot shop robbery...
Lisa Brooks

WA Corrections pays $600K settlement in sexual harassment lawsuit

Washington's Corrections Department has agreed to pay $600,000 dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former intern.
10 hours ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

‘A double life’: Skagit County pastor accused of dealing drugs, money laundering

A Skagit County pastor who “admitted he leads a double life” was arrested in January with nearly three pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine
10 hours ago
A shopper checks out an item in a Target store in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, t...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
10 hours ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Western Washington Gets Real: Pacific Northwest native wowing the opera world

Her astonishing voice has been heard around the world, but it was discovered and nurtured right here in the Pacific Northwest.
10 hours ago
boeing...
Nicole Jennings

Seattle attorney representing 737 MAX victims’ families weighs in on Boeing arraignment

An attorney representing 50 of the families of victims of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes gives his take on the fraud charge against Boeing.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UW Medicine residents stage walkout at Seattle hospitals Wednesday