New study finds unionized health care workers earned better pay and benefits

hospital workers

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Unionized health care workers earned better wages and received better non-cash benefits, with little difference in their hours compared to nonunion workers, according to a new study, “Trends in Unionization Among US Health Care Workers, 2009-2021.” ,” published on December 27, 2022 PIT.

“This study is the first to systematically examine the landscape of unionization among the US health care workforce and the associated economic effects,” said senior author Xiaoyuan Li, PhD, instructor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

Efforts to unionize workers have been revived in the US, and union membership has been shown to improve working conditions in some industries. However, little is known about unionization and its economic effects among healthcare workers. It remains unclear how health care unionization has changed over the years and what benefits, if any, health care workers receive from unionization.

To bridge this gap, the study team examined the prevalence of unionization among healthcare workers and their associations with employee wages, non-cash benefits, and hours worked across the healthcare workforce in the United States. The team studied healthcare workers who participated in the US Census Bureau’s current survey and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement between 2009 and 2021.

This nationally representative, population-based household survey provided a sample of over 14,000 self-identified health care professionals, including physicians and dentists, advanced practitioners, nurses, therapists and technicians, and support staff.

Study researchers found that unionization rates were low, with an overall prevalence of 13.2%, with no significant change from 2009 to 2021. Unionization was associated with better pay and better benefits for healthcare workers.

Unionized workers reported earning $123 more per week than nonunion workers, receiving better health insurance from their employer (both in terms of employer contributions and type of insurance plan), and being more likely to have a pension or other retirement benefits at to work. However, compared to non-unionized workers, unionized workers reported slightly more weekly work hours.

“The associated benefits of unionization are striking but not surprising,” said Ahmed Ahmed, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School and first author of the study. “Unions collectively bargain for their members, which appears to improve both employee benefits and wage differentials among workers.”

“However, future causal analysis of the relationship is needed,” said Dr. Lee. “And given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health care workforce, research into whether unionization could help mitigate burnout will be important.”

More information:
Trends in employee unionization among healthcare workers in the US, 2009-2021. PIT (2022). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2022.22790

Provided by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Citation: New Study Shows Unionized Health Workers Earned Better Wages, Benefits (2022, December 27) Retrieved December 27, 2022 from -benefits.html

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