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Healthcare Leaders Sound Off on Organized Labor

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 15, 2013

Britt Berrett, PhD, FACHE
President

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital–Dallas


The threat is probably regional in nature. Unions are very limited in the entire state of Texas, but I was very familiar with unions when I was a CEO in the Sharp HealthCare system in San Diego. I'm always concerned when there is a need for a third-party intermediary, such as a union, to represent the interests of members of your team. To have a third-party voice for those professionals seems unseemly.

There is a strong interest by unions to penetrate healthcare because it is filled with professionals who have not been unionized in the past. Healthcare is almost a $3 trillion industry, and healthcare professionals have an ability to move from one organization to another almost seamlessly.

Also, healthcare is in a constant state of change. Unions represent more static industries. We are nimble. The nurse requirements of today will be significantly different 36 months from today. To demand static conditions of employment is unreasonable.

One of our key performance indicators is based on our ability to retain top performers. We measure that every month by department. Yesterday I had a lengthy conversation on why one of the clerical staff left. Yes, really. We are all interdependent, and if we have clerical staff who don't feel engaged, I have to know.

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