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December 2, 1998

Collective Bargaining for Residents

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(21):1828. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-280-21-jbk1202

To the Editor.—Several factual errors in the Resident Forum by Dr Mason1 bear correcting in order for readers to understand the important issue of whether resident physicians are considered students or employees.

House officers at Boston City Hospital (BCH) in Boston, Mass, organized themselves as a union (House Officers' Association [HOA]) and began to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the city of Boston in 1969. Because BCH was a public hospital, the house staff came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts state labor law, which considered them to be employees (this is the case with most other states as well).2,3 House staff in private hospitals have, since a controversial 1976 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision,4 been considered students, and therefore not guaranteed the right to unionize.

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