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Resident Physicians

Boston Medical Center v. Committee of Interns and Residents, 330 NLRB 152 (1999)

Also under Unions

Outcome:    Favorable

Issue

The issue in this case was whether graduate medical students should be considered employees, with a concomitant right to unionize, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

AMA interest

The AMA believes that formal unionization of physicians, including physicians-in-training, should be subject to physicians’ overriding duties under the Principles of Medical Ethics, including the obligation to provide access to care.

Case summary

The Committee of Interns and Residents, a union, sought recognition from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of a right to bargain collectively on behalf of 430 interns, residents, and fellows at Boston Medical Center.  Under prior NLRB decisions, graduate medical students were not deemed employees.  However, by a split decision, the NLRB overruled its earlier precedent and found that graduate medical students should be considered employees under the NLRA.  They should thus be entitled to form a collective bargaining unit, which could include more senior physicians within it as well.

AMA involvement

The AMA, along with the Massachusetts Medical Society, filed an amicus brief, which advocated that graduate medical students should have the right to negotiate as a group but should not have the right to strike.

Case Brief