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why a union is not good for the hospital

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why a union is not good for the hospital essay assignment

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Write a Post of 350–400-word reply to Discussion, include a biblical integration and at least 2 peer-reviewed source citations in current APA format in addition to the text.


It is interesting that in this assignment we have been tasked to take the position that HR should proactively seek to “reduce the probability or likelihood of union formation.”  The assignment presupposes that having a union in the hospital is bad.  My purpose in this forum is to determine why a union is not good for the hospital and what management should do to prevent one from forming.

From a management standpoint, unionizing would likely make the hospital less productive financially. In the study by Sanders and McCutcheon (2010), they determined that although proportionally there are fewer unionized workers in healthcare today, unionized workers still command up to an 8% higher wage than non-union workers.  They also determined that non-union wages increased at the same rate as union wages.  Labor unions still have successful bargaining capability and powerful lobbying efforts that have created better standard of living for everyone  (Coombs, Newman, Cebula, & White, 2015).   If wages are still one of the primary motivators for joining a union, the tactic to prevent a union from forming would be to pay employees a wage that is close to or equal to what unionized hospitals pay.  Coombs et al. (2015) explain that this is exactly what hospitals do.  The tactic is called “threat” effect where management pays workers “efficiency” wages to remove, or at least neutralize, the primary incentive for unionizing (Coombs et al., 2015, p. 443).

Traditionally, unions were formed to increase wages, create safe working conditions, and provide benefits such as insurance, vacation, and retirement pensions (Pynes & Lombardi, 2011).  Safe working conditions and most of these benefits are common place in most industries today.  This is perhaps why there is less interest in hospital unions.  As Sanders and McCutcheon (2010) point out, unions in the service industry have shifted away from traditional roles in manufacturing.  In February 2009, three of the largest nursing unions in the country combined to form the National Nurses United (NNU).  They announced their primary role as protecting rights of nurses including passing the National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act (Sanders & McCutcheon, 2010).  One could make a case that much of what nursing unions want today is good for patients and good for healthcare in general.  Nurses want better working conditions including smaller patient to nurse ratios.  Nurses want better wages and a more substantial pension that will make the nursing field more attractive to young people.  These are reforms that will help the nation avoid a nursing shortage and improve safety and quality of care.

Unions do pose several threats to the peace, tranquility, and productive of a hospital.  The most destructive threat is a strike.  Although very costly, strikes are rare.  Because of the critical nature of healthcare in a community and the vulnerability of the healthcare industry, many states prohibit public sector healthcare workers from striking.  Where public sector healthcare workers can strike, there are may restrictions such as a 90-day cooling off period and an additional 10-day notification prior to beginning a strike (Sanders & McCutcheon, 2010).  On 10 June 2010, a large nursing union in Minneapolis-St. Paul held a 24-hour strike in 14 regional hospitals.  Although it lasted only one day, surgeries had to be postponed and 2,800 temporary nurses had to be hired (Sanders & McCutcheon, 2010).  Another downside of unions is that there is potentially greater tension between employers and employees.

Pynes and Lombardi (2011) point out that the most significant factor in influencing a nurse to join a union is “negative perception of their work climate” (p. 374).  Pynes and Lombardi (2011) make several recommendations to create a positive work climate.  Among other things, they suggest performance appraisals, merit pay systems that are equitably managed, and enriching careers by minimizing routine and boring tasks.

This scripture might well be adapted to this discussion if I were to change the word “fathers” to “managers” and “children” to “workers.”  “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, King James version).


Coombs, C. K., Newman, R. J., Cebula, R. J., & White, M. L. (2015). The bargaining power of health care unions and union wage premiums for registered nurses. Journal of Labor Research, 36(4), 442-461. doi:10.1007/s12122-015-9214-z

Pynes, J., & Lombardi, D. N. (2011). Human resources management for health care organizations: a strategic approach (First ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sanders, L. G., & McCutcheon, A. W. (2010). Unions in the healthcare industry. Labor Law Journal, 61(3), 142.

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