By Madeline Stump
Hundreds gathered near Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) entrance, July 20, to support the residents and fellows of the Committee of Interns and Residents of Service Employees International Union (CIR/SEIU). Many BMC doctoral residents and fellows joined the rally. The crowd included BMC patients, representatives from 1199SEIU, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the Boston Teachers Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and Boston City Councilors Ed Flynn, Liz Breadon and Ruthzee Louijeune.
During the rally, union members spoke of the importance of negotiating for competitive wages, substantially reduced-cost or free parking, and a living expenses stipend, among other benefit improvements, as demands for their new contract. For context, according to the BMC’s website, a first-year resident’s salary at BMC is currently just under $67,000, making them among the lowest-paid residents in the Boston area.
This non-competitive salary means that many of them are paying tremendous portions of their monthly paychecks for rent alone. This has led some residents to work additional jobs on top of their 80-hour workweeks as residents; routinely access food stamps; take out loans; and pursue other means in order to meet their basic needs while living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.
Speakers noted throughout that in negotiating a stronger and more fair contract, two of their main goals are to create more livable conditions for current residents and fellows, and to provide for the possibility of Boston Medical Center to both attract and retain doctors who more fully represent the communities which make up BMC’s patients.
BMC is New England’s largest safety- net hospital. This means the medical facility is designed to provide care to patients regardless of access to health insurance or ability to pay for their medical care. Consequently, patient loads at safety-net hospitals tend to include greater-than-average proportions of people from marginalized backgrounds.
To keep tabs on future progress made by the CIR/SEIU union at BMC, follow them on Instagram @cir_bmc.