A Prescription For Good Jobs In The Industrial Midwest: Labor Standards And Unions In The Booming Hospital Industry

Source: National Employment Law Project (NELP), Data Brief, August 29, 2017

…..In many major cities in the Industrial Midwest, hospitals (or health care systems) are among the largest private-sector employers. See Appendix A. Hospitals are often the economic anchors of their communities, generating millions of jobs, directly or indirectly. As a result, hospitals and the wages they pay have an outsized role on the impact of the economic health of communities.

But today, the vast majority of hospital service jobs are not objectively “good jobs.” For every high-paid doctor in the hospital industry in the Industrial Midwest and indeed nationwide, there are more than six workers providing vital supportive services that a strong health care system needs: workers who sterilize surgical instruments, clean hospital rooms, maintain patient files, prepare and deliver food, keep patients clean and comfortable, and transport patients within the hospital. Today, too many of these jobs fail to pay a living wage, to the detriment of the more than 300,000 workers who hold these jobs in the Industrial Midwest alone, many of whom are women and people of color.

We have the opportunity as a nation to improve these jobs by applying key principles from manufacturing jobs—specifically, by improving labor standards and ensuring that workers have voice in the workplace. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and respecting hospital workers’ right to join a union would significantly improve the jobs in the growing hospital industry and the health care sector more broadly…..