AMA Drops Unionization Plans After Supreme Court Ruling
In response to a recent Supreme Court decision, the American Medical Association's Physicians for Responsible Negotiation is "backing off" plans to unionize physicians at private hospitals, the Chicago Tribune reports. The decision comes after the Supreme Court ruled last week that nurses and other health care workers at private hospitals cannot join labor unions if their responsibilities include supervising others. Such workers, the court ruled, use "independent judgement" to direct other workers and are "in effect" supervisors. The AMA, however, contends that the ruling "contrast[s]" with a decision by the National Labor Relations Board that found health care professionals who exercised "ordinary professional or technical judgement" in directing less-skilled workers were not supervisors. AMA board member Dr. Donald Palmisano said, "The recent Supreme Court decision ... will almost certainly make it more difficult, if not impossible, for most employed physicians in the private sector to use collective negotiations as an advocacy tool for addressing important patient care and workplace concerns with their employers." He added the AMA is "disappointed" with the ruling and that the decision "will strip away ... workplace protections" for physicians who have been pursuing collective negotiation rights through the NLRB. Two years ago, the AMA took the "landmark" step of forming a union after hearing "widespread" complaints from physicians about the role of insurance administrators in medical decisions. The Tribune reports that the AMA's organization effort had been "gathering momentum," but the ruling will likely be used by hospitals to "defen[d]" themselves against unionization efforts. "It's been our position ... that the best way to resolve problems between professional employees and the hospital is not through union organization attempts but through good employee or employer relations," Ken Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospitals & HealthSystems Association, said (Jaspen, Chicago Tribune, 6/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.