Healthcare a gleaming target for labor unions, report finds

More so than any other industry, the healthcare sector has become fertile ground for union organizing efforts, according to a new report by the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration and IRI Consultants, the Washington Bureau Business Journal reported.

Hospital employees are seeing unions as an increasingly attractive opportunity as pressures for cost reduction spurred by healthcare reform increase, in addition to the growing trend of consolidation, according to IRI consultants, the Washington Bureau reported. In such circumstances, employees may see a union as a means of ensuring their job security.

In the last year, there has been substantial growth in organizing activity in healthcare. Compared with the 314 representation petitions filed in 2013, there were 359 petitions filed in 2014, according to the report. Further, unions won 77 percent of representation elections in healthcare in 2014, marking the industry's highest success rate in a decade. Notably, this rate was also 10 percentage points higher than the success rate of unions across all other sectors.

Since the National Labor Relations Board implemented a new rule to streamline procedures for representation elections, unions could become even more successful in their organizing efforts because employers will have shorter time periods to convince workers not to join a union. According to James Trivisonno, president of IRI Consultants, filings of union organizing petitions have risen by 10 percent since the rule took effect in mid-April.

"Now, more than ever, it will be critical that employers focus efforts to maintain positive employee relations and responsiveness to employee concerns," Mr. Trivisonno told the Washington Bureau. Encouraging managers to engage employees in decisions that impact their roles and addressing employee discontent is one method, he suggested. Additionally, hospitals and other employers should begin to prepare how they would respond to a union-organized campaign.

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