What difference does it make to work in a union facility versus a non-union facility? Can the differences be quantified and measured?
The evidence illustrates that unionized nurses earn more. They also have better pension and health care benefits; better sickness and accident benefits; contractual protections for safety on the job; better job security; protections from discretionary actions by the employer; and a powerful voice in their workplace.
Union members also have the ability to advocate for their patients and for quality health care in a real and enforceable manner. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration (March 2002, vol. 2, No. 3), patients—specifically patients suffering a heart attack—have better outcomes in a union facility compared to a nonunion facility.
The difference between unionized and non-unionized nurses is also reflected in their pay scales. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the difference in median weekly earnings for 2004 shows that there is a 27 percent wage advantage in union facilities (all industries, public and private) over non-union facilities. Furthermore, the union wage advantage (all based on median weekly earnings) for women is 33 percent, for African-Americans is 35 percent, for Latinos is 51 percent, and 11 percent for Asian Americans.
It is clear that being unionized makes a world of difference, in obvious and measurable ways. Furthermore, the benefits of unionization extend well beyond those of simple self-interest. The contract and the union make a difference in the lives of its members, as well as a difference in the patients they care for and serve.
NYPNU is affiliated with the NorthEast Nurses Association (NENA), the largest Nurses’ Association in the Northeast. NYPNU and our partner organizations through NENA are committed to maintaining grassroots Union leadership at every level of our organizations because we believe that nurses are the best people to advocate for themselves in the workplace, for our patients, and for the nursing profession.
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