Do Health Care Workers Need Peace Agreements?

I have not paid close attention to the movement to unionize health care workers in the U.S. As such, I learned a few things in this past weekend NY Times article: Doctors and Nurses Shouldn’t Have to Strike (online version titled “When Health Care Workers Are Protected, Patients Are, Too”)

Excerpts:

Since the pandemic began, the health care work force — the country’s largest industry by employment — has shrunk by nearly 2 percent… Now, with astronomical turnover and rising demand as patients seek care that they may have put off during the height of the pandemic, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and home care agencies across the country lack sufficient staff members to adequately care for patients…

Most hospitals might be private companies in their formal legal identity, but the reality is that government has shaped the health care system every step of the way of its modern existence…

Unionized health care workers all over the country are fighting back against untenable conditions in the health care industry, and they are often met with harsh treatment by employers for doing so…

Peace agreements are popular with unions because they help prevent the type of devastating reprisals that drive many workers out of their jobs, but employers often refuse to accept them…

By giving weight to workers’ on-the-job needs, while eliminating strikes, labor peace policies in health care facilities benefit patients because they give workers more power to manage their work environments. They also make establishing unions easier for workers, and data suggests that unionization in health care improves patient care.

My take: In our hospital system, recent staffing shortages have forced the hospital to close a significant number of intensive care unit beds. This will inevitably lead to postponement or cancellation (often at last minute) of needed surgical procedures (that often require availability of an ICU bed). The fix for some of the ills in our hospital system is going to be difficult. Adequate staffing with highly-trained health care workers needs to be the top priority.

Another sign that helps keep folks on the designated walking areas
–this one was at the Valley of Fires State Park, NM

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