Management Gets the Union it Deserves
So, if your hospital finds itself the target of a union organizing effort, the odds are not in your favor. However, that doesn't mean the battle is lost. What about that 30% of hospitals and healthcare entities that successfully thwart organizing efforts? Do they share any common traits?
"It's two things, and they are connected," Trivisonno says. "One is leadership and the second is culture. The leadership in organizations that embrace engagement and communication and leadership development create a firewall. Often unions can penetrate an organization not just because workers are feeling uncertain, but also because management isn't treating them well, or they are disengaged and don't understand what is going on."
"But the organizations that have a clearly articulated vision, and continue to communicate to their employees what is going on, those employees have fewer concerns, and they are less susceptible to unions," Trivisonno says. "No question that wages and benefits are a piece of it. But beyond that it boils down to the culture of the organization, building a firewall, and inoculating the organization because people believe in the leadership of the organization."
The bottom line: Workers don't organize in a vacuum. It's easy to accuse unions of sowing unrest in the workforce. It is probably more accurate, however, to say that union organizers are good at recognizing the discontent that already exists in a workforce – discontent that poor managers have either failed to notice or ignored. Remember the mantra: Management gets the union it deserves.
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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