UWHA Residents at the Front-Line of COVID-19 Response

In the past week, residents of Seattle and King County have been inundated with news about the growing number of confirmed cases of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus. While state and local governments are mobilizing emergency funds to respond to this outbreak, University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA) resident physicians are working hard to take care of their patients who are now at risk. UWHA residents and fellows make up approximately twenty percent of the physicians in King County and are on the front-lines of patient care alongside nurses, technicians, and many other healthcare workers. We recognize that this is a particularly scary time for our community. To that end, UWHA residents stand united in reaffirming our utmost commitment to patient safety and health. We are your doctors; we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

In the interim, please refer to this FAQ resource that UW Medicine has provided to patients: https://www.uwmedicine.org/coronavirus

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the UWHA. You can contact us at: admin@uwha.com.

Life Insurance for Residents and Fellows

In light of the SARS2 (nee COVID19) pandemic, there is a lot of current anxiety regarding the health of our resident members – in addition to the financial health. What follows is a somewhat macabre summary of some of our benefits with regards to student loans and the protections in place for residents with student loans in the event of death. 

UW offers Basic Group Life Insurance for all resident employees – amount of $35,000. At the time of hiring, and thereafter, there were opportunities to sign up for additional Term Group Life Insurance. The group number for these policies is the UW Group number (email us if you need this). You should have received letters in the mail detailing your coverage and beneficiaries that you have elected. Unfortunately, the MetLife website is frequently under maintenance and it is very difficult to call – “due to high call volumes.” Be prepared for this if you are trying to change your beneficiary elections. 

With regards to loans, federal student loans are disbanded in the case of the borrowers demise: https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/death. What is needed for this to happen is that proof of death be mailed to the borrower’s loan servicer. 

There are, however, some caveats. If you have a co-signer for PLUS loans, co-signers in the past have been taxed on these PLUS loans as income – form 1099-C. However, this also should (hopefully) be a thing of the past based upon the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which protects the family and estate of the deceased borrower. 

Unfortunately, private loans and refinanced loans are much more case-by-case and you must refer to the original terms of the loan and plan accordingly. 

Similarly, private consumer debt such as auto loans, credit cards, etc., are case by case. 

This is a macabre and unfortunate topic, I know; but as this pandemic deepens and more residents are exposed, it behooves us to speak to our families and develop plans, just as we recommend to our patients. 


Thank you to Dr. Axel Adams (PGY1, Emergency Medicine) for putting together this information to share

UWHA Condemns the Firing of Dr. Ming Lin

The UWHA fully supports Dr. Ming Lin, a physician who fearlessly advocated for the safety of the staff and patients at PeaceHealth. Disturbingly, PeaceHealth and TeamHealth subsequently terminated him for speaking up. At hospitals across the country, there is a massive shortage of PPE, and many hospital protocols are haphazard, confusing, or even dangerous. When faced with unsafe or unjust conditions, physicians have a professional and moral duty to advocate for what is right for patients and for their fellow healthcare workers. Now is not the time to file paperwork and let these issues trickle up the bureaucratic ladder. These are systemic problems that need to be fixed NOW. We stand in solidarity with Dr. Lin, a physician who did the right thing even though he knew he might be punished for it. Rather than seeking to suppress whistleblowers, employers must engage their employees to collaboratively solve these complex problems. Only by working together, can we ensure that both our patients and co-workers are protected during these challenging times.

UWHA Emergency Childcare Fund

Due to the increased need for childcare, the UWHA has decided to set up an emergency childcare fund for the next few weeks. One of the reasons for our recent dues increase was to be able to assist with unexpected needs as they arise. Although our union is financially lean, we believe this is the right thing to do in our current situation. We will continue to fight for the need of a Emergency Childcare Fund from UW and in our next contract as well. 

At this time, we will be limiting the fund to families with parents who are both residents, or families where the resident is the sole income provider. This fund will also be limited to support for additional childcare costs that are directly related to COVID19.  If this applies to you, please fill out the form. 

We will try our best to reimburse as many as you as possible to the maximum amount possible, but we recognize that our funds will fall far short of our members’ needs. 

UW Childcare Updates: https://hr.uw.edu/child-care/backup-and-sick-child-care/.

Notice Re: Halting Negotiations & Actions

The COVID-19 outbreak has thrust our region into a public health crisis. UWHA residents have been and will continue to be on the frontlines, taking care of patients and doing their utmost to contain the epidemic so as to protect all of our communities. Given the dire circumstances, the UWHA board has decided to halt all negotiations and actions for the next two weeks to allow our members to focus on what they do best: caring for patients.

This means we are postponing the ROS Action pending re-evaluation at a later date.
UWHA residents have been working on an expired contract since June of 2019. Despite months of negotiations, where members of the bargaining team have now each missed over 100 hours of patient care, the UW continues to make contract offers that amount to a pay-cut, keeping UW residents far behind their colleagues at peer institutions. UW is showing just how little they value residents at a time when they should be doing the opposite. We are committed to continuing to fight for a fair contract. We plan to reconvene on April 1st to continue the work of bargaining in good faith and intend to reach a contract we can all be proud of.

March 11th Bargaining Session

UWHA and UW Labor Relations (LR) met for the twenty-sixth bargaining session on Wednesday, March 11th. UWHA sent counter proposals in advance for Articles 1, 3, 6, 15, 16, 19, 23, and 25. You can read the highlights and view the package proposal. LR submitted a new proposals for Articles 2, 6, 23, and a Side Letter and MOU. Article 13 (Leave – Miscellaneous) was Tentatively Agreed to by both parties.

Article 2 (Committees), LR offered that all UWHA and peer-appointed resident/fellow committee members shall be granted an excused absence(s) from regular clinical or scholarly duties to attend their respective committee meeting. 

Article 6 (Fringe Benefits), beginning July 1, 2020, the Employer will increase the meal reimbursement to ten dollars ($10.00) per meal. 

Article 23 (Salary/Stipends), increased the housing stipend an additional $100 starting July 1, 2020, totalling $2,400 (please note this has been combined with the $750 travel stipend, so is more like $1,650 for housing and $750 for travel).

The side letter notes that the offer in Article 2 can be extended if mutually agreed upon. 

The MOU would provide a $950.00 lump sum to residents sixty days after ratification.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th from 3:00-7:00pm at Roosevelt Commons West, Rm. 271. UWHA welcomes all members to attend.

Support Letter from UW Pathology Program Director and Faculty

Thank you to all those in Pathology who are standing with residents in support of a fair contract. We highly appreciate your support!

Members: Please encourage your Program Directors to show support – we would love to see Program Directors from every department sign support letters of their own.

Check out the Letter of Support from Internal Medicine Program Directors.

Check out the Letter of Support from the Family Medicine Program Director and Faculty.

UWHA Endorses Resident Bill of Rights

The University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA) proudly endorses the Resident Bill of Rights, authored by the Yale Medical Residents and the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR). 

Our union was created with the purpose of improving working conditions and salaries for residents and fellows at the University of Washington. We wholeheartedly believe that a Resident Bill of Rights is needed and is a step in the right for direction for resident well being across our country. 

The Resident Bill of Rights includes:

  1. A living wage that allows us to support our family and pay off our educational debt. 
  2. The right to provide the best care possible for our patients and act in the best interests of the community where we live and work.
  3. No more than 80 working hours per week, not as an average and including non-clinical tasks. 
  4. Time off for being sick, access to parental leave and seeking health care without pressure to leave it unused.
  5. Recognition as full-time workers and a right to unionize, giving us the ability to use our collective voices to advocate to employers and lawmakers for our patients and ourselves as workers, not as learners.
  6. Transparency, standardization, and due process from the institutions and employers that make key decisions about our careers and futures.
  7. Access to mental health services without scrutiny or stigmatization.
  8. Equal access to career and learning development.
  9. Adequate hospital staffing and support, including the maintenance of backup call schedules for every residency program. 

You can sign the Bill of Rights at anewrealitynow.com and show your support by spreading the word. Toolkits with posters and social media samples are also available.

UWHA March 5th Package Proposal

This morning we sent a letter to UW Medicine Leadership, including UW President Cauce, Dean Ramsey, Dr. Dellit, and Dr. Joyner regarding our latest contract packet proposal. This proposal was created in response to the negotiation session we had on Tuesday

In the interest of finishing negotiations at the soonest date possible, UWHA has conceded various proposals. Although we still find these requests important and fair (as they are status quo at our peer institutions), we hope these new requests are amenable to the employer and they meet us in finishing this process quickly.

Highlights include: 

  • Reducing the childcare fund ask to $250,000 per year
  • Accepting the employers definition of a “resident”
  • Reducing the relocation stipend to $1,000 and limiting to only incoming residents coming from outside of King County
  • Accepting the employers meal reimbursement amounts
  • Tentatively agreeing to the employers proposal on “Leave – Miscellaneous”
  • Removing the ability to be paid out for unused sick leave
  • Removing the procedure for discovering purpose for unused vacation leave
  • Reducing base salary of R1 to $62,000 (respectively for R2-R9)
  • Reducing ask for housing stipend to $13,000 per year, and accepting flat rate between contract years
  • Reducing travel stipend ask to $750
  • Drop language to expand bargaining unit 

Please see the package proposal for full details.

March 3rd Bargaining Session

UWHA and UW Labor Relations (LR) met for the twenty-fifth bargaining session on Tuesday, March 3rd. UWHA brought counter proposals for Articles 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 25, and newly submitted 26. LR submitted a package proposal including new language on Articles 6, 16, 21, 23, 25, a Side Letter and a MOU. 

Article 2 (Committees), UWHA proposed that if GMEC or the GMEC Policy Subcommittee dissolves or adapts, the new committee will maintain the same number of board seats as the prior established committee.

Article 3 (Definitions), UWHA maintains that the definition of a “resident” should not include that an individual is in an “ACGME accredited program” as it is exclusive of many residents. 

Article 6 (Fringe Benefits), UWHA proposed that starting on July 20, 2020, meals are reimbursed at $9.50 per meal, increasing by $0.50 each year thereafter. LR has increased their financial offer for meal reimbursements to $9.50 starting July 1, 2020 and $10.00 starting July 2, 2021. UWHA also proposed that in the future if other physician groups at UW are afforded a cell phone or cell phone stipend, this will be afforded to members. Additionally, UWHA proposed that any residents moving from outside of Seattle will be allocated a $2,500 relocation stipend. 

Article 7 (Grievance), UWHA proposed small language updates. 

Article 12 (Leave – Holidays), UWHA updated a grammatical error, but maintains that holidays be paid out. 

Article 15 (Leave – Sick), UWHA agreed to language that accumulated sick leave that is not transferable, is not compensable at the completion or expiration of the appointment to the program.

Article 16 (Leave – Vacation), LR increased their offer to 24 days of paid vacation, starting July 1, 2020 and 28 days (4 weeks) of paid vacation, starting July 1, 2021. 

Article 18 (Moonlighting), maintains the previous moonlighting proposal.

Article 19 (No Strikes, No Lockouts), UWHA maintains that the university may not apply different discipline to multiple residents who took the same action.

Article 21 (Professional Development), updated their offer to include an option to have a stipend for professional development, in addition to the reimbursement. The reimbursement option is maintained at $350 and the stipend is $375. There is no proposal for a rollover in either option.

Article 23 (Salary/Stipend), LR proposed that members would receive their first salary increased 60 days after contract ratification. Additionally, LR increased the housing stipend, starting July 1, 2020 by an additional $100 from the last proposal, increasing it in total by $500, and an additional $100 starting July 1, 2021. They’ve maintained the Chief Resident stipend at $175.

Article 25 (Transportation), LR cleaned up language around sunsetting the bike incentive program, on June 30, 2020.

Article 26 (Miscellaneous), UWHA restructured their latest proposal on this article to move closer to LR’s Article XX that mentions similar items. 

Additionally, LR offered a Side Letter – stating on 1/1/2021, they will send a one-time email communication to all programs that contains the leave balances for UWHA members. LR also supplied a memorandum of understanding that within 60 days of ratification, the employer will provide each Resident with a $200 lump sum payment. This is supposed to make up for not receiving increases to stipends and salary, while under an expired contract. 

Dr. Joyner and Dr. DeLitt joined the bargaining session for the last 30 minutes to discuss upcoming actions. The employer and UWHA agree that patient safety is of the highest priority and that residents will continue to work diligently during the public health crisis we’re currently facing.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th from 3:00-7:00pm at Roosevelt Commons West, Rm. 271. UWHA welcomes all members to attend.