Why unions are important for nursing

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In recent years, organized labor participation has increased in the United States, and workers are collectively negotiating better wages and fair working conditions. Nurses are particularly well organized. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average for all other occupations is 13%, while more than 20% belong to collective bargaining units.

A new dissertation, “More than Handmade: Nursing, the Labor Movement, and feminism“Focus on the reason nurse We have been very committed to trade unions and have provided subtle insights into the relationship between nursing, feminism and trade unions from a direct perspective. Union nurse. As the study reveals, in addition to the complex relationships with past feminist movements, gender norms and assumptions have posed the challenge of ongoing trade unionization in the profession.

The study is based on interviews with female nurses attending the California Nurses Association (CNA) in Oakland, a children’s hospital in Oakland, California, with Jessa Ringer and Kim Blanchi, associate professors of the Department of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Born from Forte’s conversation. Registered nurse A California-based nurse educator and sister of Ringer.

“Even before the pandemic, there was a change in the lifespan of a nurse’s career. Nurses later entered this field as second and third careers, with advanced practitioners, education, research, or completeness. I’m leaving the bedside sooner to leave medicine. “Blanciforte says,” I desperately wanted to capture the brilliance of my colleagues. “

This paper was motivated by this desire to record the working life of union nurses and to understand the relationship between feminism and the labor movement in the field of nursing. Lingel and Branchiforte are co-authors of Rosemary Clark-Parsons, Program Manager at the Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS) and Part-time Faculty at the School of Social Policy and Social Practices (SP2), University of Pennsylvania, to assist in the analysis of data. I got in touch.

The influence of second wave feminism

Researchers have made it possible to specifically interview nurses at the end of their careers and analyze the experiences of participants in feminist politics. The second wave of movement, which began in the 1960s, emphasized gender equality in the workplace and encouraged women to quit their traditional “feminine” profession. For example, we encouraged women to become doctors rather than nurses. These discourses underestimate women’s work in feminized career paths and make them feel despised.

“The nurses we interviewed came to the profession in the 1970s and 1980s when feminism was pushing women into areas historically dominated by men,” says Ringer. “Many of our participants felt that they were separated from feminism, which regarded nursing as traditional feminization.”

β€œIt was really moving to read the participants’ stories about organizing strikes, building lifelong friendships through union activities, and fostering the courage to drive policy reform,” Clark Parsons adds. “Nurses Jessa and Kim fought to endanger their work and speak out in a male-dominated labor movement. These are veteran activists and organizers and professions that underestimate them. I oppose the history of the movement that put them aside a lot. It was really impressive when participants expressed discomfort or discontinuity in feminist politics, implicitly or explicitly. ”

The authors initially expected participants to link nursing work to feminism, but interviews revealed prolonged tensions. In fact, the participants were almost unanimous in categorically seeing their work as non-feminist. Conversations with Penns School of Nursing faculty, such as Julie Fairman, Cynthia Connolly, and Pat Dantonio, helped author contextualize what the data sees.

“The scholarship shared by Penn Nursing colleagues still feels the repercussions of the second wave of feminist movements that our participants saw nursing as playing a traditional gender role. “I made you understand,” says Ringer. “As a feminist scholar, I saw this as a very important reminder that political theory could have long-standing consequences.”

Union activities and building alliances

In contrast, participants shared that local unions provided a sense of empowerment and opportunity to uphold health justice in the workplace and in the community. Traditional views of “feminine” professions, such as nursing, emphasize self-sacrifice and humility, and women are inherently compassionate and compassionate and therefore centered on professional skills and knowledge. It suggests that it is suitable for this job, not. Trade union work goes against the expectations of such genders by demanding improved working conditions, professional respect and increased autonomy. Activism within the CNA allowed nurses to take action in their professional lives and disobeyed gender assumptions.

“Participants felt that union activity was more relevant to feminism in that the union was led by women and provided women with space to raise collective strength and awareness,” Ringer said. say. “My favorite part of our interview was the sense of solidarity that women built with each other around union activities. A collective struggle to fight for each other’s needs, families, and workers. I was very impressed by their explanation of how powerful union activity is. “

The authors state that understanding the relationship and tensions between feminism and union organizations is crucial in building an alliance between unions and feminist groups. Feminism can play a major role in the labor movement, but it must combat the protracted impact of second-wave attitudes towards professions such as nursing. As both feminism and the nursing profession continue to evolve, the movement must commit to crossovers, worker rights, grassroots organization, and the building of coalitions.

β€œI really believe that the pandemic has given us the opportunity to increase our union participation,” says Blanciforte. “We hope that as a community and as a nation, we will not miss that opportunity.”

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For more information:
Jessa Lingel et al, more than handmade: nursing, labor movement, feminism, Gender, work, organization (2022). DOI: 10.1111 / gwao.12816

Quote: Why unions are important for nursing (March 10, 2022) was obtained from on March 10, 2022.

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