The United States is plagued by a growing nursing shortage, which is causing dissatisfaction among nurses and threatening the quality of patient care in hospitals. With the nursing profession's struggle spanning from recruitment to retention, some nurses and scholars have advocated for unionization as a possible response. Nurses working in unionized hospitals earn higher wages and may experience higher job satisfaction and provide better patient care than those in non-unionized hospitals. However, recent developments in labor law have left the ability of many nurses to unionize as an open question. On September 29, 2006, the National Labor Relations Board issued a trio of much anticipated decisions that might take the option of unionization off the table for many nurses. In the latest development in this ongoing saga, on March 22, 2007, Democratic leaders in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate responded directly to the NLRB's rulings by proposing a bill that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to reverse the impact of those decisions. This Comment will explore the nursing shortage, nursing unions and the potential impact of these recent labor law developments on the nursing profession.
"Rubbing Salt in the Wound": As Nurses Battle with a Nationwide Staffing Shortage, an NLRB Decision Threatens to Limit the Ability of Nurses to Unionize,
Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y.