213229 Healthcare Professionals, Union Representation and Professional Integrity: Insights from Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), AFT, AFL-CIO

Monday, November 9, 2009: 2:50 PM

Ann Twomey, RN , Health Professionals and Allied Employees, American Federation of Teachers, Emerson, NJ
This presentation will describe the incentives and pressures to compromise professional integrity that face frontline healthcare professionals as well as discuss how union representation defends against these forces. Examples of how the current status of health care fosters these incentives and pressures will be evaluated, including instances in for-profit health care where the goals of the for-profit employer prevent or impede professionals from carrying out their responsibilities. Additionally, ways in which licensure and legal requirements can both protect professionals and make them more vulnerable will be assessed, including misuse of HIPAA laws and examples from New Jersey.

This presentation will also analyze how unions working in the healthcare sector protect staff and the professional standards they hold. This will include a discussion of collective bargaining language and the ability to negotiate specific working conditions and patient care provisions (such as staffing levels) and how the larger collective bargaining process facilitates a healthcare professional's ability to defend oneself or speak out and be protected. The effect that public campaigns, legislation, advocacy, coalition building with citizen groups, and professional associations will also be evaluated, with examples brought from the work of Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), AFT, AFL-CIO, New Jersey's largest union of Registered Nurses (RNs) and healthcare professionals. This presentation will end with a discussion of what APHA and others can do to protect healthcare professionals from threats to their professional integrity and standards.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the incentives and pressures to compromise professional integrity facing healthcare professionals, especially frontline RNs. 2. Evaluate ways in which other members of the public health community can protect professional integrity. 3. Discuss the role of organized labor in the healthcare and public health fields and how unions are able to support healthcare professionals against threats to their professional standards.

Keywords: Nurses, Union

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be a presenter because of my experience as union representative of nurses and health care workers in our union.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.