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May 14, 2024

Matt Fontana Discusses Trends in Health Care Unionization Efforts With Law360

Labor and employment partner Matt Fontana gave insight to Law360 in their article covering how health care workers – including nurses, pharmacists and doctors – are trending toward unionization. In the article, Fontana shared thoughts on how government regulation in the industry adds another layer of complexity to the bargaining process.

Fontana noted that a recent Biden administration rule setting staffing minimums for nursing homes is just one example of increasing regulatory involvement in issues commonly subject to bargaining. He also mentioned a predictability pay bill in Philadelphia requiring certain employers to compensate workers when they initiate changes to employees' posted work schedules.

"The more that there is regulation, the narrower the scope of bargaining becomes, because a number of these issues are just laws — we have to follow it," Fontana said. "And as issues become narrower, I think you see more protracted bargaining because there's less way to get everybody to an agreement."

"If you narrow the number of issues that are really in play, you're often left with the most difficult issue, which is wages," Fontana added.

But even as new segments of the health care industry show interest in unionization, organizers' underlying motivations are generally consistent. "What I always tell employers is, to me, fundamentally, it's about treating employees with respect and dignity," Fontana said. "Unions are formed when employees often feel that, for whatever reason, they're not being heard, they're not being treated in the manner in which they want to be treated."

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