In June, more than 600 residents and fellow physicians at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore voted to join the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). According to the Baltimore Sun, the results represent the first unionization of residents and fellows in Maryland. The vote follows years of organizing efforts.

“We want nothing less than to work collaboratively with the leaders at UMMC to develop and cultivate a program that attracts some of the greatest medical minds to our city. But to do that we need to have parity with the other institutions in our city,” said Andrew Gilmore, a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow at UMMC.

In April, a group of residents and fellows approached the medical center’s leadership to ask them to voluntarily recognize the union. Dr. Bert O’Malley—president and CEO of the Baltimore hospitals—instead requested that the NLRB hold an election.

The 647 residents and fellows who voted, chose overwhelmingly to unionize—628-19.

After the election results were announced, O’Malley said, “The University of Maryland Medical Center respected the decision of the residents and fellows who voted in favor of unionizing and would bargain in good faith with the goal of reaching an agreement that reinforces our commitment to extraordinary patient care and preparing the next generation of physicians for exemplary careers in medicine.”

The unionization efforts received support from local politicians including Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and City Council President Nominee Zeke Cohen.

UMMC joins other residency programs that have recently organized across the country, including those at UCLA Medical Center, University of Michigan Health Systems and Boston University Medical Center.

“The organizing committee has worked diligently over the past several years to organize their colleagues into a union that is best equipped to advocate for themselves and their patients,” said AFT Maryland President Kenya Campbell. “Our state federation is excited to work with these brilliant medical minds to deliver great outcomes for workers that will only result in a better UMMC, and most importantly better quality of care for the surrounding community that relies on residents and fellows to keep us healthy and safe.”