The Healthcare Industry Checkup: Unions Have the Fever for Physicians And Nursing Care Workers Alike

by | Jun 16, 2022 | Healthcare, SEIU, Strikes, UAW, Union Organizing

We recently told you about this industry’s abrupt change in fortunes as pandemic concerns aren’t yet a thing of the past as federal Covid-19 funding dries up at hospitals across the U.S. The rising cost of living will surely contribute to the ongoing chess game between healthcare systems and unions, the latter of which isn’t above using staffing shortages, budget shortfalls, and other stressors to their advantage.

Undoubtedly, the healthcare industry finds itself pushed to the brink with no immediate solutions in sight. Union leaders are eager to confront worker frustrations with promises of negotiations for higher pay, increased benefits, and other perks. This is happening at all levels of the healthcare labor force across the U.S., as recent developments confirm, beginning with doctors continuing to head into the union house and much more:

  • Los Angeles County: Physician residents began to sound the alarm on their 80-hour workweeks and Covid-related burnout that’s exacerbated by high workloads and lower pay rates than their fully-fledged, independently practicing physician counterparts. The Committee of Interns and Residents (an arm of the SEIU) now represents 1,300 physician residents (who voted to strike with more developments to come) from three of Los Angeles’ public hospitals.
  • New York City: Mount Sinai postdoctoral fellows (who perform research duties for the Icahn School of Medicine) began to organize under the UAW while citing rising housing and childcare costs and asking for stipends and wage relief.
  • Iowa: After the SEIU threatened a rally by University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics staffers, the healthcare system announced 4% raises (up from the preexisting 1.3%) that appear to be across the board.
  • Sacramento, California: Nursing care workers (and home health care aides) marched (by the hundreds) near the state capitol while demanding that the state fund a quality-standards board proposed by the SEIU.
  • Pennsylvania: An SEIU informational picket not only included nursing home staffers from The Gardens at Wyoming Valley facility but also thousands of workers from other long-term care facilities across the state. And at a Harrisburg facility, SEIU-represented workers rallied for increased facilities funding (they’re asking for hundreds of millions in Medicaid funds) to increase staffing difficulties and ward off what they say has been a long-brewing retirement home crisis.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota: Three mental health care facilities saw workers strike for greater safety guidelines in the workplace, including protections against violent patients and the dangers presented by understaffed wards.
  • Maine: Workers at two teen-focused mental health treatment centers petitioned for a vote (while citing poor working conditions and low pay) to join the SEIU.

Healthcare systems face numerous complications while working to overcome workforce burnout and limited resources. Look for unions to continue maneuvering for windows of opportunity to engage frontline workers, who seek strong leadership that prioritizes their concerns about safety, pay, and more.

If you are interested in what we’ve recently been doing to help improve healthcare workplaces, give us a call (800-888-9115).

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