a black and white photo of a stethoscope on a bed
a black and white photo of a stethoscope on a bed
woman in blue dress standing near building during daytime
woman in blue dress standing near building during daytime

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AFSCME? How do we fit in?

AFSCME Council 93 includes 36,000 members in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. It was started as a union for state, county and municipal employees but has expanded, and now has 10% of members in healthcare. Nationally they are part of the AFL-CIO, with 1.4 million members, some of them doctors, but we would be the first group of physicians in MA.

How much are dues?

Dues cost $46 per month for full time employees. This pays for logistical support, and no dues are paid until a contract is ratified.

What can a union do for me and my patients?

Unionizing empowers us to negotiate over our working conditions, which includes anything from compensation and benefits, to scheduling and professional judgement. When we file for a union election, Mass General Brigham can no longer make unilateral changes. Instead, our employer must legally negotiate with us.

Check out what other doctors unions have achieved

Could I lose my job for joining?

Workers are protected under law by the National Labor Relations Act to organize and unionize. Mass General Brigham is legally not able to retaliate, and that includes taking away any benefits.

Without a union, MGB can change our working conditions at any time, but with a union, it gives us the power to make changes that benefit our interests and help us care for our patients.

See the NLRB policy for specific protections (Sections 7 and 8)

Will I be asked to go on strike?

Through collective bargaining, physicians can have a lot of leverage through other means without having to go on strike. Physicians in the past have only ever initiated strikes over severe safety issues. This is only ever done as a last resort, and is extremely rare. You will never be forced to go on strike, and no union chapter can go on strike without the supermajority approval of its members.

A hospital-wide union would consist of many different departments - how could one contract address everyone's needs?

Our collective bargaining agreement will be made with the goal that no department is left behind. The contract will be made simply to ensure that all physicians receive the same base level of benefits, but will not prevent additional ones, it serves as a "floor", not a "ceiling".

We make sure every department has a voice, by listening to our members. Before we begin collective bargaining, will hold meetings, have surveys, and meet with staff from every department to make sure that all concerns are heard and every department is advocated for in the contract.

Many doctors union chapters have bargained for department-specific benefits, nothing is off the table!

person in black long sleeve shirt holding persons hand
person in black long sleeve shirt holding persons hand

I'm interested - what next?

We have done it! You all spoke and we listened, and with an overwhelming majority (72-16), we voted and became an NLRB-recognized union!

We will now work with Mass General Brigham and AFSCME attorneys, with negotiating teams from each department, to bargain for individual contracts.

Who is eligible to vote?

In short, all inpatient physicians who are not in an administrative role. Inpatient providers are the only physicians eligible, they must work at least 20% of their clinical time, at least 53 hours in the past quarter at Salem Hospital.

What are union authorization cards? Why do we need them?

The cards represent a way to demonstrate to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that we are interested in forming a union, and a way to show them that a sufficient number of physicians are interested in moving forward. Once the NLRB has cards, they will set up an election.

Why have we chosen AFSCME?

Through AFSCME, there is a significant field staff here locally to help with organizing. There is a Political Action and Communications group both locally and nationally to help with legislative needs, and an in-house legal department. They also provide education and logistical support to help manage the finances, tax law, and mobilization efforts.

What are we fighting for?