They work 80 hours a week for low pay. Now, California’s early-career doctors are joining unions

Despite the growing appetite for collective action among resident physicians, not every institution has accepted unionization efforts. Residents and fellows at Loma Linda University Health are locked in a legal battle over bargaining. The 800-member unit won union representation last June under the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, but the hospital is refusing to bargain citing religious exemptions, according to case documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board

Loma Linda University Health is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Dr. Jessica Muñoz, an emergency medicine resident who led unionization efforts at Loma Linda, said seeing other residents win contracts and move to organize offers hope to her and her colleagues.

“No matter what happens here, I’m excited for all of these residents and fellows that are unionizing around California and the country,” Muñoz said.