Are Unionized Nursing Homes Safer During the COVID-19 Pandemic? GWU Research Suggests So in New York State

Sep 15, 2020 | COVID-19, News, Nursing Home, Union

Are Unionized Nursing Homes Safer During the COVID-19 Pandemic GWU Research Suggests So in New York State

George Washington University (GWU) researchers led by Professor Adam Dean found in a study that nursing homes where employees were unionized had a 30% lower COVID-19 mortality rate than those without unionized healthcare worker staff. Apparently, if this report is accurate unionized, nursing homes also had a 42% decrease in COVID-19 infection rates among residents. This research found that unionized nursing homes offer more protection to staff. For example, such staff were 13.8% more likely to have N95 masks and 7.3% more likely to have eye shields.

The Study

The researchers investigated 355 nursing homes in New York state between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Using publicly available COVID-19 mortality data from the New York State Department of Health, the team gathered proprietary union enrollment data offered by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Communication Workers of America as well as publicly available data from the New York State Nurses Association.

Workplace Leverage?

The authors concluded, “Our results suggest that unions may have reduced COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents by successfully demanding PPE for health care workers,” the authors conclude. “Health care worker unionization may play an important role in ensuring access to appropriate PPE and implementing infection control policies that protect vulnerable nursing home residents.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Adam Dean, Assistant Professor of Political Science


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