Hundreds of resident physicians at Boston Medical Center donned white coats in the midday heat for what they called a “unity break” in front of the hospital.

“I did not come into medicine in order to fight for the salaries of doctors,” Dr. Brett Lewis, a union delegate and Boston Medical Center resident, told the crowd.

“We are doctors at BMC because we care about providing the most equitable, culturally appropriate and evidence-based care possible,” Lewis told GBH News. “But we can't do that when we ourselves are struggling so much.”

The rally comes as the physicians seek a new contract with improved wages and benefits. Contract negotiations began three months ago, with the last contract expiring at the end of June.

The 750 resident physicians — unionized with the Committee of Interns and Residents — are looking for higher wages and better benefits, arguing that it will create more livable conditions for current employees and help attract a more diverse workforce. Per the union, the first-year salary for resident physicians is under $67,000 — less than Cambridge Health Alliance, Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Mass General Brigham. Medical residents and fellows at Mass General Brigham just voted to unionized this year over their long hours and salaries, which start at $78,540.

“Our ask is very simple. Boston Medical Center needs to pay us enough and provide the benefits we need to live and work in one of the most expensive cities in this country,” said Dr. Taha Khan, a resident physician in pediatric neurology. “Like so many BMC residents, I am constantly worried about being able to pay my rent. My bills are for parking at the hospital where I come to work and care for my patients.”

Khan said, with a fair contract, the hospital could bring in more doctors of color who mirror the diversity of the hospital’s patients.

Psychiatry resident Dr. Anisah Hashmi said the upfront cost of a medical degree can create workforce inequities, too.

“That reinforces the model where only the wealthy have access to become doctors,” Hashmi said. “And when we reinforce that model, we do not have doctors that reflect the diverse patient population that we serve.”

In an emailed statement to GBH News, Boston Medical Center said it, “greatly values the contribution our residents and fellows make to our hospital. We are actively in conversation with the Committee of Interns and Residents and look forward to, once again, negotiating a mutually agreeable contract.”

Medical students, nurses, medical interpreters and teachers — as well as local officials such as City Councilors Ed Flynn, Liz Breadon and Ruthzee Louijeune — came out to support the physicians.

“I'm really hopeful about this turnout that we had. It was phenomenal,” Hashmi said. “So I'm optimistic that when we go to the bargaining table tonight, we're going to get a different, better outcome, hopefully.”