In the past, nurses were hesitant to be associated with unions. However, that thought is changing and the idea is becoming associated with the ability of nurses to control nursing practice as well as the quality of care that is rendered to patients. Unions allow nurses to regain control over the quality of care they deliver. This is helpful in combating the decline in quality of care that is related to the increase in the number of for-profit healthcare organizations who are more concerned with reporting dividends to stockholders and plan officers than in upholding the commitment to excellent patient care (Yoder-Wise, 2015).

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Outside healthcare, unionization is a frequent practice by the labor pool. Unionization has been slow to come to the healthcare industry. The basics of collective bargaining in any industry, include cooperation between labor and management. This goal will not come to fruition without both sides sharing in the power, profits, and responsibility (Levitan & Johnson, 1983.) Many suggest that the union model is outdated because trends have changed and this framework is no longer useful. However, other voices in nursing are embracing unionization and take the approach that nurse leaders need to use this formal partnership to advance nursing and nursing management (Yoder-Wise, 2015).

Nursing managers will need to be involved in the collective bargaining process. Issues that may necessitate the need for collective bargaining, presided over by the manager include: working conditions, overtime that is mandatory, unsafe nurse-patient ratios, and limited opportunities to participate in decision making. During the process, the nurse manager will need to utilize excellent communication. Management also will maintain the counseling record, if there is disciplinary action involved. The process of knowledge workers unionizing develops organizations that are more similar to associations rather than traditional unions. Ultimately, unionization will help elevate the profession as nurses are given more control over their own workplace rights and the ability to deliver professional care within industry standards (Yoder-Wise, 2015).

  • Levitan, S., & Johnson, C. (1983). Labor and Management: The illusion of cooperation. Harvard Business Review, 61, 8-16.
  • Yoder-Wise, P. S. (2015). Leading and managing in nursing (Sixth edition). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Mosby.