DETROIT, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Unions are increasingly using aggressive negative publicity campaigns and other alternative strategies and technologies to organize hospital and other healthcare workers, according to a new survey, the 29th Labor Activity in Healthcare Report. IRI Consultants surveys 3,300 members of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) each year to assess labor trends in healthcare. The significant increase in the incidence of reported negative publicity campaigns against healthcare organizations, also known as "corporate campaigns" (26 percent - up from 13 percent), also is reflected in the growing concern among 62 percent of the respondents who indicated they were either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about union efforts to organize workers. Corporate campaigns are designed to damage an organization's reputation and image by inflicting significant external pressure on an organization in hopes of gaining leverage. Union-sponsored campaigns often aim for negotiating strength or to force employers to accept "neutrality," "free access" or "card check recognition" that make organizing workers far easier. These agreements enable the union to side-step traditional secret ballot elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board and are often more successful organizing strategies than traditional elections. The new survey shows a significant increase over last year in respondents who report pressure from unions to agree to card check (32 percent - up from 17 percent), neutrality agreements (26 percent - up from 19 percent) and fair election agreements (10 percent - up from 6 percent). The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was the primary union in more than 50 percent of reported corporate campaigns, and continues to be among the most aggressive unions targeting the healthcare sector. Respondents reported that registered nurses (RNs), service and nonprofessional employees and technical workers were the most common focus of union organizing efforts among ASHHRA member organizations. Among the most frequent issues used to organize workers were pay (80 percent), benefits (70 percent) and staffing levels (60 percent). Unions also demonstrated more reliance on electronic and online techniques to reach potential members and create coalitions, taking advantage of low-cost communications tools like email, blogs and Web sites to network and disseminate information. Unions also have leveraged so-called "social networking" through the use of MySpace and YouTube. Founded in 1979, IRI Consultants offers organization development, corporate communications and employee relations consulting, training and leadership development services that help clients implement best practices to improve employee job satisfaction, enhance workplace productivity and facilitate and apply effective communication strategies. ASHHRA, a division of the American Hospital Association, is the nation's only membership organization exclusively dedicated to meeting the professional needs of human resources leaders in health care. A copy of the full report is available by contacting Robert Moll at 313.965.0350, ext. 428.
SOURCE IRI Consultants