An observational study of 13,350 nursing homes between June 8, 2020 and March 21, 2021 finds that facilities with unionized workers were associated with a 10.8% lower COVID-19 mortality rate among residents and a 6.8% lower COVID-19 infection rate among workers.
The study, “Resident Mortality And Worker Infection Rates From COVID-19 Lower In Union Than Nonunion US Nursing Homes, 2020-2021,” calculates that “industry-wide unionization would have been associated with approximately 8,000 fewer resident deaths.” The researchers suggest that policies advocated for by unions – paid sick leave, access to personal protective equipment and COVID testing, and isolation of infected residents – may decrease workers’ rates of infection, thereby lowering residents’ mortality. Among the 13,350 facilities in the study, 11,108 were non-union facilities and 2,242 were union facilities.
Unionized nursing facilities had higher percentages of Medicaid residents, higher occupancy rates, and fewer white residents than non-unionized facilities. They had higher registered nurse staff-to-resident ratios, but lower licensed practical nurse and certified nurse aide staff-to-resident ratios. Unionized facilities had higher rates of for-profit ownership, but lower percentages of chain affiliation.
- For further information: Adam Dean, et al, “Resident Mortality And Worker Infection Rates From COVID-19 Lower In Union Than Nonunion US Nursing Homes, 2020-2021, Health Affairs (May 2022), https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/epdf/10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01687.
May 12, 2022 – T. Edelman