With healthcare reform in full swing, there will soon be a mass influx of people with newly attained health insurance. As a result, healthcare organizations are being put under extreme pressure to conform in order to meet the demand. “There has been a sense of urgency among nursing unions to organize nurses in large numbers, as well as an increased push to organize other groups of healthcare workers” (Sanders) in order to make sure that the increased healthcare demands will not have a negative effect on working conditions or quality of care. Though unions have been on the decline over the past several decades, it is possible that we will see a steady increase in union organization in the next couple of years, especially in the healthcare sector. Unions have advantages that could have great impacts on the employee, employer, and the consumer.
If the Healthcare sector takes the advantage of what an Union has to offer then there will be less pressure on the employees in the workplace and more results being brought forward. Educating the workers on their rights enables them to fight for every benefit that they deserve. It will also allow employers to feel secure in knowing that their employees are happy with the regulations and that will build a better relationship between the two. Unions can enforce job security standards that can be done in an expeditious and inexpensive manner. Within the workplace Unions will put in place order and understanding. It will regulate better ways of communication by informing the workers on exactly with is and what is not expected. Unions will also help the consumer by making sure the quality of work that is given by the employee is up to par.
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to all work places (Kennedy). Historically, unions have played a prominent role in the enactment of federal and state laws to protect workers’ rights (Mishel). The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans” (Mishel and Walters).These include regulations regarding overtime pay, health and retirement coverage, family leave time, just to name a few (Mishel). Without unions, many of these regulations, which are now required in the American workplace, may not have been formed. Current and future healthcare unions could help to create regulations that will improve the work experience of healthcare workers and the quality of care given to patients.
There are countless advantages that are brought about by healthcare unions specifically. Unions can have a “substantial impact on the compensation and work environment of both unionized and non-unionized workers” (Mishel). While 18.7% of nurses were unionized in 2010, 20.4% of nurses were advantaged by union-negotiated benefits and wage increases (Weber). Unionized workers earned 28% more, an average of $917 versus $717 per week, than non-unionized workers in 2010. Non-unionized nurse pay is higher in states where there are strong unions present (Weber). Non-unionized nurses earned about $3 less per hour than unionized nurses in 2001, and in 2006 the gap had risen to about $3.68 less per hour (Weber). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics documented that 93% of unionized workers were entitled to medical benefits in 2011, while the number was just 69% for nonunionized workers (Keller). Union membership gives the group the strength they need to demand fair pay and optimal working conditions from their employer. A survey by the Pew Research Center in 2011 determined that