BREAKING: Montefiore residents vote to unionize with 82% supermajority vote

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Montefiore resident physicians and fellows voted to unionize.
Photo Aliya Schneider

Resident physicians and fellows at Montefiore Medical Center voted to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) by a supermajority of 82%.

Turnout for the vote was 63% among approximately 1,200 residents and fellows. The results, which were tallied Thursday, were sent to the National Labor Relations Board for certification. Once the results are officially recognized, workers can begin bargaining for their contract.

Resident physicians are medical school graduates that work in hospitals and clinics while undergoing required training in their specialty to become board-certified fully licensed doctors, and fellows are in an optional stage of medical training and are typically fully licensed and sub-specializing after their residency.

Residents in November called upon the medical center to voluntarily recognize its union, a request Montefiore denied.

But the Bronx hospital network told the Bronx Times on Thursday that it is ready to negotiate in good faith.

“Montefiore respects our Interns, Residents and Fellows right to join a union,” the medical center said in a statement to the Bronx Times. “Now that the election process is complete, we will enter the bargaining process in good faith.”

Organizing efforts began early on in the pandemic when residents and fellows found themselves filling in the gaps and lacking support.

While the Montefiore residency program is the only one in the Bronx that isn’t unionized, according to organizers, Montefiore residents were some of the first to unionize in the 1970s before losing recognition in 1981.

“After being one of the last programs in the Bronx without union representation, winning a seat at the table and joining our unionized peers is long overdue,” Dr. Isuree Katugampala, a third-year pediatrics resident said in a statement. “We are proud to build on the incredible legacy of our predecessors, and progress further toward a compassionate, equitable model of care.”

The resident physicians rotate across various Montefiore sites, but are mainly located at the Moses campus in Norwood and Jack D. Weiler Hospital in Pelham Parkway, organizers told the Bronx Times. Some also share rotations with public hospital residents at Jacobi Medical Center.

Residents at the Montefiore Wakefield campus are already unionized with CIR, having organized in 2001 prior to Montefiore buying the campus in 2008 after Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center filed for bankruptcy.

The organizing effort has brought in support from elected officials, like state Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

Dinowitz said the victory is not just for the health care workers but also for the community that relies on Montefiore for medical services.

“Kudos to CIR-SEIU and all those who helped organize this effort, and I look forward to an earnest and responsible bargaining conversation between Montefiore and this new union,” he said in a statement.

Rivera expressed the same sentiment and called the borough a “union town.”

 This victory is not just theirs, but a win for everyone who lives and seeks care in this borough,” Rivera said in a statement. “The Bronx is a union town and I am honored to welcome new members to our union family.”

CIR represents more than 24,000 resident physicians and fellows nationwide.

This story was updated on Feb. 23 at 6:41 p.m.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes