Elmhurst Hospital residents set to strike next week over disparities in pay, benefits

Elmhurst Hospital
File Photo/QNS

About 170 resident physicians at Elmhurst Hospital, employed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are preparing to go on a five-day ULP strike beginning Monday, May 22. 

The physicians, who are unionized with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), said that they’re fed up after almost a year of bargaining with the corporate health system on pay parity and other various benefits including education, transportation, leave, sick leave, meal stipends and hazard pay. 

The physicians said that this behavior from Mount Sinai feels both racist and anti-union. 

“It feels so unjust that we, as largely immigrant doctors serving this working-class immigrant community in Queens, have to beg to get what we need to pay our rent, and from a corporation like Mount Sinai that touts its commitment to New York communities,” said Dr. Tanathun Kajornsakchai. “Mount Sinai should invest in the doctors caring for so many people in Queens who cannot get care anywhere else.” 

The physicians working in an essential public hospital through Sinai’s partnership with NYC Health+Hospitals make up to $7,000 less annually than their non-union counterparts working at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, according to CIR. 

CIR has filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against Mount Sinai for unreasonably delaying bargaining for a period of four months and refusing to furnish information requested by the union. 

Dr. Irfa Khan said it’s “disappointing and disheartening” that Mount Sinai is refusing to agree to pay parity for Elmhurst Hospital residents. 

“We absolutely do not want to strike, but we feel as if we’ll have no choice if Mount Sinai doesn’t start bargaining in good faith with us doctors so we can agree on a fair contract,” Khan said. “We were here when Mount Sinai needed us, where is Mount Sinai when the Elmhurst doctors and community needs them?”

Elmhurst Hospital was known as the “epicenter of the epicenter” at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospital made national headlines after being inundated with coronavirus patients, including 13 who died in a 24-hour period. 

The impending strike at Elmhurst Hospital could be averted if an agreement is reached. CIR members at Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals recently reached a tentative contract agreement averting what would’ve been the first doctors’ strike in over 30 years in New York City. The physicians won virtually unheard-of patient care proposals that focused on issues such as adequate resources to limit patient loads and enforceable processes to address out-of-title work.