Curious about the improvements we were able to win between our current contract and the contract we had previously? Check out the highlights below.
Please Note: In September 2020, we rebranded our labor union’s name to Resident & Fellow Physician Union – Northwest. We were previously called, University of Washington Housestaff Association.
If you want to review the full contract, see here.
We have outlined the most significant changes to the contract here. Below the outline, you will find a brief summary of the changes for each article, listed by article. Please contact RFPU with any questions regarding the current contract. Many of the changes in the current contract secure important new rights or codify existing rights more strongly around leave and accommodations. We are proud to have won a 4th week of vacation for all of our members starting in July 2021. We are disappointed that it is not effective immediately, however it is a positive step forward that members will received 3 additional days in the academic year starting July 2020. The increase in the housing stipend, while real, is not what we had hoped for, and neither is the per-year cost of living increase in your salaries. In the post-COVID era, fighting for these, which RFPU members deserve and then some, is a major challenge.
Significant positive changes
- Secured three additional vacation days beginning July 1, 2020 and four weeks beginning in July 2021
- $600 increase in the housing stipend in July 2020, staying the same in 2021
- An additional $600 payment as part of the first paycheck in July representing the difference between the new housing stipend and the one paid in July 2019.
- Fully subsidized (free) U-Pass for all RFPU members
- $10 per meal when on call from $7.50, starting July 1, 2020
- $1250 ratification bonus to be paid in the first paycheck in July if ratified
- Doubling of the professional development days from 5 days to 10 days
- Guaranteed leave from duties, including during working hours, for health, dental, or wellness appointments
- Maintained 60 days for RFPU members to report grievances to RFPU and for us to file them, where UW wanted to cut this in half
- Bereavement leave requiring significant travel now will be eligible for two additional days of leave even if the travel is not overseas
- Incorporation of new Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Vacation over holidays will no longer be double-counted with holidays or personal days
- 6 months+ of parental leave is now available to RFPU members
- Pregnant residents have the ability to opt out of overnight call and 24+ hour shifts
- Increased professional development funds to $400 per year and increased professional development fund rollover to $1500, strengthened rules around reimbursement for medical licenses
- All required research years will now result in PGY level and pay increase
- Programs must provide travel and lodging (or funds therefor) for any required away rotations
- Increased pay in PGY9 year. Previously, pay stopped rising at PGY8
- Parking at any clinical site after the first site (i.e. if you have to visit 2 or more clinical sites in a day) of the day will be reimbursed
- RPFU staff will have access to meet with and help RFPU members at UW training sites
- Enhanced commitments on safe ride home reimbursement
Where we need to keep fighting
- 2% raises in July 2020 and July 2021, unfortunately LESS than the average annual increase in cost of living in Seattle
- The lump sum payment fails to account for the lost pay for many senior residents and fellows
- Exchange of bike funding and incentives in favor of fully subsidized (free) U-Pass
- Only $50 increase in the professional development fund, which remains among the lowest of any major GME program in the country
- Concessions on moonlighting which unfortunately fail to open more moonlighting opportunities for members
Article 1 – Childcare
Maintained the childcare fund of $50,000 and clarified UW benefits available to parents. Removed obsolete elements (such as the Childcare Advisory Group position).
Article 2 – Committee Memberships and Hospital Committee
Secured the right to substitute a member for GMEC if the RFPU- NW representative cannot be present. Previously, if the designated RFPU-NW representative could not attend, no substitutes were guaranteed. GMEC meets mid-day, making substitution critical to represent RFPU-NW members. Added language in support of excusing RFPU members to attend committee meetings and represent the needs of residents and fellows. Removed several committees which no longer exist.
Article 3 – Definitions
Minor changes in language, including defining resident to include dental residents.
Article 4 – Disciplinary Action and Just Cause
Article 5 – Dues Deduction, Fair Share, and UWHA Membership
UW agreed to include a packet about RFPU – NW and your benefits in the information given to all incoming interns. UW agreed to audit their records in July 2020 to remove all members who have left RFPU – NW. In the past, UW’s failure to track their own employees has resulted in former members being charged dues inappropriately. Language related to fair share fees, which were disallowed by the 2018 Janus decision of the US Supreme Court, was removed.
Article 6 – Fringe Benefits
Guaranteed paid time for RFPU – NW members for all required orientation activities, including those prior to the start of their program. Strengthened wellness language to show that residents must be allowed to attend wellness, medical, or other health appointments even if during work hours. Secured an increase to the meal reimbursement of $10 per meal from $7.50 beginning this summer. Laundry services for white coats will be provided at no charge to residents. Programs now have the option to provide relocation expenses to RFPU – NW members (but it is not mandated). Residents will now have access to any UW-provided employee fitness facilities at all UW-operated training sites, but this is not guaranteed at sites where RFPU – NW members train but UW does not control (i.e. the VA). Despite strong effort, UW only provided for a $50 increase in the professional development fund paid to members. This fund may now be paid as a stipend (which would be taxed). If kept as a reimbursement, it may roll over to a maximum of $1500 instead of $1000.
Article 7 – Grievance Procedure
Preserved the 60 day period to file grievances, which UW wanted to cut in half. Strengthened language prohibition retaliation against RFPU – NW members for exercising their contract rights. Agreed to the discontinuation of the Step III Grievance Committee process.
Article 8 – Health and Safety
Added language ensuring that UW will comply with local (in addition to federal and state) regulations on health and safety.
Article 9 – Housestaff Advisory Committee
Added new language to permit the Housestaff Advisory Committee (where RFPU – NW and UW GME and Labor Relations representatives meet) to discuss any issues, including grievances, with a goal of resolving concerns more rapidly.
Article 10 – Leave – Bereavement
Secured two additional bereavement leave days for any RFPU – NW member with significant travel of any kind, not just overseas (The old contract limited this additional leave to overseas travel).
Article 11 – Leave – Extended
Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program will apply to RFPU – NW members. For members in states without such laws (e.g. Idaho), extended leave will remain an option.
Article 12 – Leave – Holidays
Codified the win in our grievance that residents will no longer have vacation and holidays double-counted, where RFPU – NW members were losing vacation days if scheduled over a holiday. Secured language allowing RFPU – NW members to roll over their paid personal holiday if a RFPU – NW member follows proper leave procedures to request that day and it is denied by their program.
Article 13 – Leave – Miscellaneous
Secured lengthening of parental leave to be up to 6 months, with the possibility of extensions. RFPU – NW members may now use substantially more sick, vacation, or personal leave for parental leave than previously allowed (18 weeks vs 10 days) Pregnant residents will now be exempt from overnight call, 24-hour or greater shifts, and any work requiring exposure to radiation or teratogens (in addition to other, reasonable accommodations as indicated). The process for securing such leave has been clarified and codified. Leave related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault is now available to residents.
Article 14 – Leave – Professional
RFPU – NW members now receive twice the days of paid professional leave per year, ten days from five.
Article 15 – Leave – Sick
Secured sick leave for all RFPU – NW members, including those appointed at less than 50% time. Codified that RFPU – NW members must be allowed to attend medical, dental, or other wellness and health appointments, including during business hours. RFPU – NW members will no longer be charged a sick day for using less than four hours of leave to go to medical appointments. No RFPU – NW member will have to inform their program of the reasons for sick or medical leave. GME Wellness appointments will not count against sick leave, regardless of time needed.
Article 16 – Leave – Vacation
RFPU – NW members will receive four weeks of vacation beginning in 2021-2022 and three weeks plus three days beginning in July 2020, with programs encouraged to provide four weeks in July 2020. Unfortunately, despite lengthy arguments and much evidence of UW’s inferior position compared to nearly all its peers, four weeks for all members in the coming year was not attainable. Language clarifying the potential effect of vacation leave on Board eligibility was added as an explanation.
Article 17 – Management Rights
Article 18 – Moonlighting
Incorporated much of the Moonlighting policy from the RFPA and GME policy. Importantly, RFPU – NW members will no longer have to be “above average” to qualify for Moonlighting. They need only meet their program requirements, which essentially all RFPU – NW members do.
Article 19 – No Strikes, No Lockouts
Article 20 – Non-Discrimination
Added language expanding and clarifying the non-discrimination protections afforded RFPU – NW members. Clarified the language around anti-retaliation protections for members who feel they have been discriminated against, emphasizing that this is explicitly forbidden.
Article 21 – Professional Development and Licensing
Maintained reimbursement of trainee licenses (including RFPU – NW members in WWAMI states) and increased professional development funds to $400 funds per year. Secured continued rollover of professional development funds from year to year to a higher cap, $1500. Programs may now offer this as a stipend (which would be taxed if so). Programs are permitted to reimburse for full licenses, but not required. Kept reimbursement of all required licensing and certification exams, such as ACLS/PALS and USMLE/COMLEX.
Article 22 – Progression by Training Year → moved to Article 23, which will be renamed Article 22
All required research years will now receive progression in pay for RFPU – NW members, regardless of whether they are ACGME-required. RFPU – NW members transferring from one program to another, regardless of program, will be appointed at a pay level no less than one below their current one. In the prior contract, only a limited number of exceptions to the research year pay progression and transfer pay scale rule existed.
Article 23 – Salary/Stipend
Residents will receive 2% increases in salary each year of the contract. There is a new PGY9 level for advanced RFPU – NW members (previously, there were no salary increases after PGY8). The housing/home call stipend has increased by $600 in July 2020 and going forward. Note that the final value of this stipend is $2400, but this includes all but $100 of the former $750 transportation stipend. The transportation stipend is now $100 and included in this section. Now incorporates the above Progression by Training Year language from the former Article 22.
RFPU – NW wants to be clear: This is not the salary increase we deserved. However it is the highest UW was willing to offer with current circumstances. Cost of living in Seattle has risen at or just under 3% per year for the last few years, meaning that the salary bump does not keep up with inflation, which UW acknowledges. While we feel our members deserve better, RFPU – NW board feels that this is the best deal we could expect to get at the time, in light of current financial challenges due to COVID-19.
Article 24 – Subordination of Agreement and Authority
Article 25 – Transportation
The travel stipend has been moved to the Salary/Stipend article. All RFPU – NW members will receive a free U-Pass as of July 2020. The safe ride home program has been strengthened and given a larger fund of money to draw from. UW has assured us that this does not represent a hard limit should RFPU – NW members need to utilize it more. Bike fund and incentives have been discontinued in favor of the free U-Pass, unfortunately. We continue to work to promote incentives for alternative transportation and fight global climate change. Programs which have required away rotations must now provide travel and lodging (or funds to pay for this) to their residents and fellows.
Article XX – Duration
New article detailing the duration of the agreement (through June 30, 2022) and when bargaining for the next contract can begin (no sooner than 1 January 2022).
Article XX – Union Activities
New article with language stating the union and union representatives will not use state-owned email, fax machines, internet, or intranet for union activities in a way that is prohibited by the Executive Ethics Board. Employees may use state operated email to request union representation.The union will have access to bulletin boards at all UW Medicine sites (and non-UW Medicine sites as available).
Appendix I, Appendix II, and Appendix III
Removed as obsolete (I-III) or already incorporated into the contract (IV).
Appendix IV – Memorandum of Understanding on Reimbursement for Washington State Medical Licenses
Removed obsolete language regarding license reimbursement.
Appendix V – Memorandum of Understanding on Working Outside of the Training Program
Removed as obsolete. Now incorporated into Article 18 – Moonlighting.
MOU: Ratification Lump Sum
Provision of $1250 to all current and graduating residents and fellows (not incoming residents or fellows) in the first pay period in July.
MOU: 2019-2020 Home Call Stipend
Provision of $600 on July 10th to all RFPU – NW members (current and graduating, but not new interns) representing the difference in housing stipend between the last contract and the new one.
Side Letter: Scheduling
Programs must provide at minimum 30 days notice for schedules.