Coney Island Hospital Doctors Join SEIU

On June 23, 2010, a unit of full-time physicians at Coney Island Hospital in New York City voted to join Doctors Council SEIU.  Of the 139 doctors eligible to vote, 115 voted, with 96 voting in favor of Doctors Council SEIU and 19 voting against.  For the past two decades, Doctors Council SEIU represented the part-time physicians at the hospital.  The June 23 vote increases the number of represented doctors at the hospital to over 200.  According to the President of Doctors Council SEIU, Barry Liebowitz, M.D.:  “With healthcare being targeted for cuts across the country and with many hospitals struggling or failing, doctors need to stand together more than ever and advocate for resources and funding for staffing and patient services.”  The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the United States, serving over one million patients every year, owns and operates Coney Island Hospital.  The doctors are employed by University Group Medical Associates, a HHC affiliate.  Doctors Council SEIU, which was founded in 1973 and became affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1999, represents doctors and dentists, including doctors in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. 

The trend of doctors joining unions has steadily increased over the last few decades.  Indeed, in 1999, the same year that the National Labor Relations Board overturned decades of legal precedent and held that residents who work in teaching hospitals are “employees” entitled to join unions, doctors in Los Angeles, Seattle, New Jersey, and New York joined unions.  In June 1999, the American Medical Association, which previously resisted doctors’ joining unions, endorsed the concept and developed an affiliated national labor organization called Physicians for Responsible Negotiations.  Given the National Labor Relations Board’s June 3, 2010 decision refusing to review a regional director’s ruling that the interns and residents at St. Barnabas Hospital are employees, it is expected that efforts to organize doctors throughout the country will increase. 

This entry was written by Jennifer L. Mora.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.