A union is an important part of any labor workforce. It encourages a two-way form of communication between the employer and the employees who are usually also members of a particular labor or otherwise known as a workforce union. Now, there are some things that a pre-made union leader may consider and take before finally being able to form a new labor union. Almost all general principles applied in a normal union can be applied to the Healthcare Administration setting. However, it has to be remembered that the differences between the nature of the job of one industry and the other should always be considered.
Five Things that an Organization may take during a Union Organizing Campaign
The goal of any union organizing campaign is to be able to gather as much members as possible. The more supporters an organization conducting an organizing campaign has, the better because as the number of members increases, the level of influence and the likelihood that more and more members will join in the future also increases. However, this is just an ideal and does not actually happen in reality because most organizations fail to organize a successful union campaign due to several reasons.
1. Establish an Organizing Committee
The organizing committee can simply be considered as the group of person who can be identified by the present and future members as their leaders. They can also be considered as the representatives of various clusters within a larger organization or a workforce category because that is what they essentially are. They can even represent an organization cluster in many other ways. For example, an organizing committee may represent an entire organization department, the employees working under a particular time-shift, a group of employees who belong to a common racial, gender, or even ethnic diversity. There are literally lots of organizations and unions that can be formed from within a healthcare administration workplace. One thing to remember in establishing an organizing committee is that the leaders who will be chosen should be both capable and responsible. These two characteristics will be their bread and butter throughout the campaign.
2. Setup an Arbitrary Issues Program
After choosing who the major key players will be, it is now time to analyze the type of improvements that the organization will try to achieve. This part can be very important because this is what prospective members and invitees will usually look at first in deciding whether they will participate in that campaign, become members of that organization given that they pass the criteria, or not. In an election, this may be referred to as the platform.
3. Provide Union Membership Cards
The overall success of the union organizing campaign will actually depend on the quality of executions and decisions in this part. In a union organizing campaign, the best way to recruit additional members would be to give out union membership cards. This informs the prospective member that the union asking for his membership is a legitimate and an ethical one. Besides, this is like the main marketing strategy that the organization will use to win more members. Therefore, it has to be ethical and very convincing. Most of the time, workforce members who are not yet members of the union will be very interested to join after knowing the improvements that the union will try to achieve or if joining the union would best serve their interests.
4. Win the Election
Winning the election should be the number one goal of an organization in a union organizing campaign. Winning the election means that the members are very interested with what the organization has to offer or can do.
5. Formalize Everything
After winning the election, the real work kicks in. The first step would be to formalize everything. Make contract agreements with all the important entities that the union will have to deal with and make sure that they will be signed. Most of the times, interactions will include the employer and the union leaders in it.
Five Things that an Employer cannot do during a Union Organizing Campaign
1. Hinder Employees from Soliciting or doing Campaign-related duties during non-working hours
An employer is not, in any way, allowed to forbid his workers to participate in any union organizing campaign-related activities during non-working hours such as during an employee’s rest day, leave, or even break time. However, the reciprocal rule applies to the employees. That is, they cannot do any campaign-related activities during working hours.
2. Hinder Employees from doing campaign-related activities in non-working areas
Regardless whether it is currently an off-duty time, employers do not reserve the right to forbid their employees from participating in any campaign-related activities in non-working areas. It is only logical for them not to allow the employees from doing such activities in working areas such as their office desks and any other company areas or properties.
3. Forbid Employees to wear and use campaign-related materials without a valid business or legal reason.
Sometimes, employees wear different materials such as shirts, pins and tags to strengthen their campaign presence. Such should be allowed by the employer as long as it does not, in any way, affect the performance or productivity of the company.
4. Blacklist employee Union Representatives from the company building or any other company property
Employees reserve the right to work and participate in a union campaign at the same time. The employer is therefore not allowed to bar any employee from staying inside company-owned buildings and properties.
5. Refuse to cooperate with Union Officials without any valid business or legal reasons
Union officials usually ask certain information like the list of names and the addresses of the employees who will participate on the campaign. They should always be on-call whenever a union official or leader seeks their assistance.
Union Memberships in the Healthcare Administration Industry
According to a 2011 news cover by Steven Greenhouse, a journalist at the New York Times, “the number of American workers in unions declined sharply last year” (2011) which was somewhere during the year 2010, and was also identified as the lowest rate since the past 7 decades. The first large scale membership unions were actually established more than a century ago while their real peak was actually attained somewhere between the 1980s and the 1990s. From that point onwards, their overall popularity slowly declined until the entire union membership industry experienced a very steep decline that lead them to the lowest rating they had since the last 70 years. This can only mean two things. It can mean that people are simply turning away from such unions because they do not trust that being a member of one can still help them should an employer dispute or any other similar problem arise anymore or it could also mean that workers find joining a union membership insignificant to the success of their careers. However, it is kind of ironic how labor unions in the healthcare and public service industry still experiences steady growth. There are several reasons behind that almost unexplainable phenomenon and that is what this paper is all about.
1. They always have something about public health and safety in their goals list
Even though the workforce members are the functional unit of a labor union, one cannot neglect the fact that the more supporters a labor union has, the more formidable it can become against the joint efforts of various pro-employer entities who try to tear these pro-employees groups down. One of the factors that made state healthcare workforce unions survive the grave consequences of the Great Recession is their motive. They always have something about public health and public safety in their goals list. As an example, let us look at how the labor movement in the U.S. united the public interest groups and the public health sectors to submit acts concerned with the safety of coal miners and occupational safety of all other citizens.
In 1970, a labor movement in the U.S. together with several public safety interest groups passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 together with the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Mirer, 2002). This increased the people’s awareness about the real motive of healthcare workers who are most likely members of healthcare labor unions during that time. More and more medically-ill people who were not able to receive proper medical attention before due to personal reasons became eager to seek medical attention because of their increased confidence with the healthcare workers during that time. They know that as long as the public health unions and its members are present, the
U.S. will continue to have top of the line health and medical services.
This resulted to an increase in number of private for-profit hospitals. These hospitals of course need to have its own faculty of medical professionals that will cater to its patients’ medical needs. It kind of turned into a vicious cycle which resulted to more public health professionals joining unions. As a result, these unions kept on growing and even multiplying.
2. Promises of Health Reforms in the U.S.
Healthcare Labor Unions all over the U.S. are supporting the U.S. president’s move towards a reformed healthcare system that, according to them, will be not only more patient-centered but also results-oriented. The need for medical attention is actually one of the most essential needs that are most often neglected even by the world’s most productive citizens. Americans believe that they need to have easier and cheaper access to healthcare services and so they are thinking that the president, together with his supporters, the
Healthcare Labor Unions’ move will help them achieve that goal. In a way, if this pushes through, the events that occurred after the Occupation Safety Act of 1970 and the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act of 1969 was passed may be reinitiated. This will again result into a richer and more growth-conducive environment for hospitals, trade and labor unions, and healthcare professionals regardless whether they are union members or not. Everyone benefits from everybody’s efforts, making it a win-win situation for all parties involved.
3. Increase in number of Patients and Healthcare Professionals
The number of the aging population, particularly the baby boomer population, is increasing. These people definitely need some form of medical attention due to the effects of aging (Sullivan, 2007). They are the ones who need regular and constant checkups from physicians and rehabilitation experts. This situation again leads us to one familiar scenario—a scenario wherein there are more clients for hospitals and more patients for the national pool of healthcare professionals.
The unemployment rate issue can also be inserted here. As the students who are about to enter college hear of the news that the healthcare industry will be a stable industry with a constant flow of job opportunities, more and more students will enroll in healthcare and medical schools and by the time they graduate, the healthcare industry’s size would have significantly grown once again. The more healthcare workers there are and the more stable the healthcare industry is, the higher the probability that they will become members of healthcare labor unions. These unions will once again experience growth. Everyone benefits and it is once again a win-win situation.
These are the three main reasons why the healthcare union membership still experiences a steady but not so large growth despite other industries’ membership unions’ downfall. It all boils down to the quality of service of the workers. The more medically satisfied the patients are, the more confident they can become with the country’s healthcare system. The result is an overall increase in the number of patients, larger profits for hospitals, more employment slots for healthcare course graduates, and more prospective members for healthcare membership unions.
Greenhouse, S. (2011). Union Membership in U.S. Fell yo a 70 Year Low Last Year. The New York Times Bsiness Day. Print.
Mirer, F. (2002). Labor Unions. Encyclopedia of Public Health. Accessed June 2012. Available at http://www.enotes.com/labor-unions-reference/labor-unions-173267. Web.
Sullivan, A. (2007). Shushing the Baby Boomers. The New York Times. Print.