The role of nursing unions and collective bargaining for APRNs is multi-faceted. What began as the National League for Nursing (NLN) and American Nurses Association (ANA) has now expanded to numerous agencies representing the nursing profession. This expansion allows for further collaboration among organizations, which is the purpose for all nursing unions or collective bargaining agencies. This purpose is strength through unity (Matthews, 2012). Nursing unions and collective bargaining has established standards, wages, and protections for nurses, but it also works to protect the nursing profession’s most important feature, patients.
One of the expected targets and roles of collecting bargaining in the nursing profession is wages. Wage information from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses revealed that unionized nurses make higher wages than non-union nurses. Furthermore, non-union nurses received a wage benefit due to the actions of collective bargaining (Coombs, Newman, Cebula & White, 2015). This reveals the scope of unions, which is the entire profession, unionized or not.

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Unions also establish standards in regard to what a nurse’s role is in the healthcare field. This protects a nurse from working beyond her scope, but it also protects patients from nurses who would have to work outside their expertise or under unfair circumstances. Nursing shift lengths and allowances for breaks are fought for through unions, and this leads to better health outcomes for nurses and their patients.

In today’s world, the nursing profession is expanding, and the credentials behind what could be called a nurse is growing and shrinking. As such, unions are now charged with limiting the care offered by nursing assistants but also fighting for the skill sets of APRNs, so proper wages are given and job duties recognized. Administrators and business advisors are, at times, less concerned with who should do the work and more concerned with how much it cost. As the nursing profession expands, the role of unions advocate for the increasing number of people in the field.

  • Coombs, C. K., Newman, R. J., Cebula, R. J., & White, M. L. (2015). The bargaining power of health care unions and union wage premiums for registered nurses. Journal of Labor Research, 36(4), 442-461. doi:
  • Matthews, J. (2012). Role of professional organizations in advocating for the nursing profession. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 17 (1). Retrieved from