Pay Increase Negotiations Have Begun!

Your HOU bargaining team met yesterday evening with OHSU HR, GME, and their outside counsel to begin the discussion about our 2023-2024 salaries. This negotiation is limited in scope to salaries for a single academic year, with a broader contract renegotiation to follow next year.

OHSU has offered a 5% salary increase. Given the current inflationary environment, a 5% increase actually represents a real reduction in wages. Our analysis indicates that to account for inflation and Portland’s increased cost of living, a 14% increase would be closer to providing a living wage for PGY-1s. Allowing for some uncertainty in OHSU’s financial situation over the last year, we proposed a 12% salary increase.

A living wage for house officers is essential for OHSU to meet its stated commitment to centering diversity, to "building a diverse, equitable environment where all can thrive and excel." A living wage supports house officers of myriad backgrounds, especially those with children and who support other family members.

The OHSU representatives heard our proposal and they are taking it to their steering committee. We will be meeting with them again on Friday, January 6th at 5:30pm and are counting on OHSU to honor their stated values by investing in their people. We are a key component of their workforce, sitting at the intersection of the clinical care, research, and education missions. Despite our critical role, we’ve heard compelling stories from our colleagues about the difficulty making ends meet in Portland on an OHSU salary. We hear you, and are working hard to improve our collective situation.

If you are not currently a member and would like to add to our collective voice and show your support for our bargaining team, please consider joining our union today. You can use this form, our Local number is 4820.

Below, you will find a particularly compelling story from one of our members that we shared with OHSU’s bargaining team. If you have a story you’d be willing to share about how the current economic climate has affected you, please contact us!

"When you are an intern and have a family to feed in Portland, you can't live in a small room in a house with a shared bathroom. When I arrived from NY in Portland to start my intern year in the summer of 2018, the cheapest one bedroom in South Waterfront cost me ~$1400 plus utilities. South Waterfront was an ideal place for me to live since it is close to the tram. I would be the first to hop on early in the morning to go to work. However, when you are getting less than $1400 every two weeks as an intern and more than half of your monthly income goes to rent and utilities, you are really financially stressed. I would have sold my kidney to make money if that was possible. I could not get a second job at Burger King or McDonalds, they wouldn't hire me. I could not moonlight or work a part time job as an intern with my medical degree either—as we all know that's almost impossible. So what did I do? I had to hustle for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash you name it. I lived on tips for the first couple years while I was a resident/intern. Once I was done with my night shift as a surgery intern from my Trauma/ped general/vascular surgery service, I would turn on my Lyft/Uber app and start driving and picking up people from their work including Adidas, Nike, OHSU, making extra money to make ends meet for 2-3 hours and then go home to sleep. During my weekend spare time, I would pick up tourists from the airport. I would pick up rich people from fancy restaurants where I know I could never afford to eat as an intern after my weekend shift when I was still wearing my scrubs and white coat and listening to medical lectures since I had to study for my step 3. These people would ask me what I did for a living and I’d tell them I am a physician with a medical degree but get paid so little that I have to do this to pay the cost of living in Portland.  People wouldn't believe that I was a doctor with an MD, but they did pity me and gave me extra tips which did help. I also had to deliver food via UberEat and those who have never done this will never understand how hard it is to find an apartment number in a complex at night.  If you don't have rich parents or any savings, this is the reality for many interns. A second job was essential to survive. Literally to survive! Thankfully, as I climbed the ladder in my residency, the pay increased and I got my sign on bonus from my new job where I will be working once I graduate this summer from my residency. They are also paying me a stipend, so I can truly focus on learning medicine and patient care which I signed up to do. I've thankfully stopped doing Uber/Lyft and meal delivery. However, the pain and stress still remain a vivid memory in my muscles/bones that I used to drive passengers and carry their bags/carriers all over Portland. The pay we get as residents is never enough unless it doubles which I know OHSU will never do for us, however, when we are asking for a small increase, I want the people making this decision and bargaining with our Union to remember my name, Hans Kim, who as a general surgery intern had to drive Uber/Lyft/meal delivery to make ends meet. Now, I can proudly say that I've gotten through my residency and in 6 months, I will be getting a real paycheck starting this summer. I really hope my story helps the future incoming interns/residents. I want to finish my story with this thought though. I often told my guests this story when I was driving for them. If you can't be a good driver with a good service attitude, you can't become a good doctor, because the side job as a driver is, in essence, the same as being a caring physician. I was serving people and making sure they would get to their destination safely and at my core, it was my philosophy to serve people that got me through my residency training, made me humble and made me a better physician and a better man. Let us get better treatment, with better service from our employer, so we can return our quality service to our patients. Ultimately it is about patient care, someday for those you are making this decision for, bargaining with our resident union, will end up seeing us at the ED. Do you want to see a stressed intern who just drove Uber for 3-4 hours and is already tired from work as an intern? Or do you want the residents who will take care of you to be rested, alertly greet you and provide you good service. Please consider this.  Thank you for reading my story."