Health Workers Unions See Surge in Interest Amid COVID

January 15, 2021 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Regulations

Last modified January 18, 2021

For months now, front-line health workers across the country have faced a continual lack of PPE and inconsistent safety measures. According to this article from Kaiser Health News, studies show they’re more likely to be infected by the coronavirus than the general population. Not to mention, hundreds have died. There have been many workers who claim employers and government systems that are meant to protect them have failed.

Research shows that health facilities with unions have better patient outcomes and are more likely to have inspections that can find and correct workplace hazards. One study found New York nursing homes with unionized workers had lower COVID mortality rates, as well as better access to PPE and stronger infection control measures, than nonunion facilities. Because of this, some workers are forming new unions or thinking about organizing a union for the first time. 

“The urgency and desperation we’ve heard from workers is at a pitch I haven’t experienced before in 20 years of this work,” said Cass Gualvez, organizing director for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West in California. “We’ve talked to workers who said, ‘I was dead set against a union five years ago, but covid has changed that.'”

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