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Physician Unionization In The United States: Fad Or Phenomenon?

Author: TIMOTHY J. HOFF
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 23 No. 1

This article explores the current trends and issues surrounding physician unioniza-
tion in the United States, using data from secondary sources and nine interviews
with leaders of organizations at the forefront of physician unionizing efforts. Several
key points are supported by these data and prior unionization research. First, unions
should become a viable organizing alternative for the almost 50% of doctors who are
salaried employees because of fewer legal barriers to collective representation, the
involvement of national labor unions with resources to spend on organizing, more
physicians belonging to demographic groups less hostile to organized labor, and
work-related pressures faced by physician-employee under managed care. A second
key point is that unions will find it difficult to represent self-employed physicians
because of the influence of organized medicine and legal barriers to gaining collec-
tive bargaining rights for this group. This discussion is intended to raise awareness of
the physician union issue among health care policy-makers and researchers.

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