Unionized hospital RNs slightly less satisfied with work than nonunionized RNs

Research Activities, August 2011, No. 372

Unions are becoming increasingly important among registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. Yet, RNs who are union members are less likely to report job satisfaction than RNs not in unions, found two national surveys. Over 10,000 hospital-employed direct-care RNs were included in the surveys. In 2004, 18.9 percent of RNs were represented by a union and in 2008, 19.6 percent were represented.

Hospital-employed RNs who reported either being "satisfied" or "very satisfied" increased between 2004 and 2008 from 74.2 percent to 78.1 percent. In 2004, on average, 73.3 percent of unionized nurses reported being satisfied with work compared with 75.5 percent of non-unionized nurses; by 2008, the comparable figures were 77.1 percent compared with 78.3 percent. Unionized nurses reported higher average income from their principal nursing position in both 2004 and 2008.

There are several possible explanations for the results. Because these findings indicate associations rather than causal relationships, it is possible that lower levels of job satisfaction are not the result of unionization, but rather its cause. Nurses who are dissatisfied may seek union representation, and thus, during some transitional period, overall job satisfaction may be lower. It is also possible that unionized nurses are more inclined to voice dissatisfaction, suggest Joanne Spetz, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco and coinvestigators. Their study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS14207).

See "Hospital RN job satisfaction and nurse unions," by Jean Ann Seago, Ph.D., Dr. Spetz, Michael Ash Ph.D., and others in the March 2011 Journal of Nursing Administration 41(3), pp. 109-114.

Current as of August 2011
Internet Citation: Unionized hospital RNs slightly less satisfied with work than nonunionized RNs: Research Activities, August 2011, No. 372. August 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/aug11/0811RA21.html