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Physician unions: any doctor can join, but who can bargain collectively?

Authors
  • Sobal, L V
  • Hepner, J O
Type
Published Article
Journal
Hospital & health services administration
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1990
Volume
35
Issue
3
Pages
327–340
Identifiers
PMID: 10106916
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Employees in the health care industry, including physicians, have recently taken more interest in unions and collective bargaining. At the present time the health care industry is approximately 20 percent unionized. Labor leaders believe that existing conditions are fertile ground for significant union activity that has been on a recent upswing after a decline during the early 1980s. While current attention is being drawn to the shortage of and increased union organizational activities by nurses, physicians may not be far behind. It is conceivable that by the year 2000 the majority of physicians in the United States will work in full-time salaried positions. In addition, the antitrust laws that currently restrain independent physicians from collective bargaining are being challenged and are likely to change as more physicians become salaried and begin to resemble other professional employee groups. The ruling determining that interns and residents are students rather than hospital employees is also certain to be challenged and changed, especially as pressures on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are brought by house staff union organizations. After a 1987 ruling that the NLRB had been improperly interpreting the 1974 amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act, the NLRB was ordered to exercise its rule-making power in defining bargaining units for health care workers in acute care hospitals. Physicians would then be one of eight occupations defined as a separate health care bargaining unit.

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