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|Unions Making a Difference for Health|
Unions work to keep us healthy. Healthcare workers’ unions make clinics and hospitals safer, more efficient, and more responsive to patient needs. And the labor movement is out in front in the campaign for affordable, quality health care for all. Unions:
Improve quality of patient care.
Enforce adequate hospital staffing levels. Studies show that surgical patients are more likely to die when nurse staffing levels are low,2 but higher nurse staffing is associated with shorter hospital stays3 and fewer patient complications.4 Nurses and their unions ensure higher staffing levels by bargaining for minimum staffing ratios and supporting nurse-patient ratio legislation at the state and federal level.
Keep patients safe by supporting prohibitions on mandatory overtime for healthcare professionals. Among nurses, long shifts and working overtime at the end of a shift coincide with an increased rate of errors such as administering the wrong medication or dosage.5
Address the nation’s nursing shortage. The support and better working conditions that unions provide ensure that more trained nurses remain in the profession.
Improve communication at hospitals and ease the process of implementing new hospital practices through labor-management committees.6
Lead the fight for quality, affordable healthcare for all. Unions educate voters, lobby Congress, and urge companies with union contracts to support affordable, quality health care.
1. Michael Ash and Jean Ann Seago, “The Effect of Registered Nurses' Unions on Heart-Attack Mortality,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 57.3: 422-442.
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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.