UW resident and fellow physicians are fighting for a good union contract – we must all unite with them

Home » UW resident and fellow physicians are fighting for a good union contract – we must all unite with them

I was honored to speak at a rally Sept. 25 of UW residents and fellow physicians who, as members of the UW Housestaff Association, are organizing for a good union contract. They are fighting for the same thing that workers are fighting for across our city – the right to be paid enough so they can live in Seattle with affordability. My solidarity letter to them:

September 25, 2019

To my union sisters, brothers, and siblings with University of Washington Housestaff Association (UWHA):

My office and I stand in complete solidarity with resident and fellow physicians at the University of Washington in your fight for good pay and just treatment. 

As a rank-and-file member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, a member of Socialist Alternative, and a Seattle City Councilmember, I promise you that we will do everything in our power to support your right to good jobs and a union contract.

It is appalling to me that University of Washington, whose president is paid more than $900,000 a year, is offering you wages so meager that many of you would not be able to afford to live in Seattle under them. 

As your own UWHA president, Dr. Kellie Satterfield, has noted, UW residents and fellows, who make up 20 percent of all doctors in King County, and who diligently and effectively serve the community every day, are the lowest paid residents in the county once you factor in the cost of living.

By walking out today, you recognize that this fight is about power, not just money. You recognize that you need to take collective action to get the attention of management. I appeal to the entire labor movement to stand with you, as well.

You also recognize the need for affordable housing. Working people need to fight both for workplace rights and housing justice.

Seattle rents have shot up 69 percent since 2010, and today average more than $2,100 a month. Nearly half of all Seattle renters are officially rent-burdened – putting more than one-third of their paychecks into housing. Some 12,000 people are homeless in King County; 4,200 school children are either homeless or have unstable housing. Meanwhile, corporate developers and property-owning corporations are making money hand over fist while driving working families, students, and retirees out of our communities. 

This profiteering is displacing especially people of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. And it’s making it nearly impossible for you to live close to the hospitals, so you can be there for patients when they urgently need you.

Just two nights ago, I held a committee meeting in Seattle City Hall to unveil our movement’s draft legislation on rent control. More than 250 people showed up to submit more than 12,000 signatures they had collected citywide in the last few months, demanding that the city enact rent control now.

I was delighted to learn last week that UWHA is now one of nearly 20 organizations that has endorsed our rent control movement. Thank you!

We salute your action today. By demanding pay that will allow you to live with affordability in Seattle, you are on the front lines of the battle for the soul of our city. 

Let’s stand together to win a good contract for doctors, and affordable housing for all!

In solidarity,

Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council