SEIU: Union Chief’s Eye Is on Health Care Industry
Sunday's Los Angeles Times featured an interview with Andrew Stern, organizing director for the Service Employees International Union, which has led the way in the effort to unionize health workers -- including physicians. The union scored big in May when 74,000 Los Angeles County home health workers voted to organize, and one of its major goals is to "organize health care workers to take on giant medical organizations." Stern said, "Much of the drive to organize is being fueled by nurses and doctors who are concerned about patient-care issues. What we are seeing now is that changes in the way health care is being delivered are powering today's labor movement much as changes in the industrial sector fueled organizing in the factories of the 1930s." When asked how groups with such disparate incomes as home health aides and neurosurgeons could band together, he argued that "they are all looking for a way to make their voice heard. Home workers, because of their economic situation, are much more inclined to look for support around wages and benefits and being able to raise a family and get a good education for their children. Doctors are much more interested that their voice be heard at the bedside around quality patient care and issues involving the practice of medicine." Stern concluded, "Doctors are joining unions because they are concerned about being able to continue to provide capable, quality care to their patients. Doctors don't like being told that they have only 10 minutes per patient. They don't like so-called managed-care organizations telling them what procedures they can perform or what tests they can authorize. I would think that people would want to go to a doctor who is fighting for their interest and not to one who is just trying to achieve the objectives of a managed-care organization" (Profitt, 7/4).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.