Healthcare Unions Eye Gains in 2014

John Commins, December 16, 2013

The five-member National Labor Relations Board is sharply pro-labor, and could provide favorable rulings that will make it easier to organize next year. Expedited elections are "the biggest concern that employers should have," says one expert in labor and employee relations.

The uncertainty and shifting landscape in the healthcare industry continues to favor organized labor's efforts to unionize hospital workers, and there is no indication that the trend will slacken in 2014.

"We have seen a tremendous increase in union activity and petition activity since mid-summer," says James Trivisonno, president of Detroit-based IRI Consultants, which tracks organized labor activity in the healthcare sector for the American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Administration.

"The catalyst is change as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals are scrambling for ways to reduce costs and improve processes. Those translate into change. People don't like change. Even if it doesn't result in cost reduction, the thinking is it's my job and the way I do it is changing. I don't understand it unless it is communicated properly. I liked the old way we were doing things even though it was inefficient, and I was used to it and that is the way we did it for 10 or 20 years. Unless properly implemented and executed, change can result in uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to poor quality and turnover or they get a union to promise that it won't happen again."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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