The Healthcare Labor-Management Partnership Initiative (HPI) at Penn State is committed to encouraging the implementation of new labor-management partnerships in healthcare organizations and to working with existing partnerships to help them reach their full potential. Our mission is to provide educational programs, research, and direct consultation to healthcare systems and to healthcare unions interested in pursuing labor-management partnerships to improve patient care, create meaningful jobs, and control healthcare costs.
What is a Labor-Management Partnership?
A labor-management partnership is a relationship between a union or unions and an employer that includes formal opportunities for front-line staff to contribute to improving the organization for which they work, the services the organization provides, and their own experiences at work.
A labor-management partnership is a program in which employees and their union representatives work together with management and administrators as full and equal partners to identify and craft solutions to significant workplace problems. In healthcare organizations, the ultimate goal of such partnerships is to improve patient care, improve working conditions for frontline staff, and control costs.
Partnerships in a healthcare setting include mechanisms for frontline staff and administrators to jointly identify and solve patient care problems or other jointly-identified challenges such as workforce, labor relations, employee engagement issues, the use of new technologies, and community health issues. Existing healthcare partnerships have improved the quality of patient care and the patient experience, established optimal staffing levels, reduced waste, and lower costs.
Partnerships can occur as a specific initiative to address a problem or as a comprehensive approach to solve departmental and system problems, as well as to transform a labor-management relationship.
Upcoming HPI Activites
April 26, 2022: Peter Lazes and Paul Clark will be members of an expert panel on staffing issues in the healthcare industry sponsored by the Nurses and Health Professionals Division of the American Federation of Teachers.
DATE CHANGE: The Learning Collaborative 2.0 webinar scheduled for March 30, will now be held on April 20, 2022 from 4:00-6:00 pm EST. We plan to use this session to talk about current approaches for dealing with workforce issues on retention and hiring approaches. We will also set aside time to share updates of current partnership activities from each participating organization. Our plan is to convene sessions of the new Learning Collaborative 2.0 every 3 to 4 months. Please register for the webinar in advance.
Recent HPi Activities
March 26, 2022: Peter Lazes, Visiting Professor and Co-Coordinator of the Healthcare Labor-Management Partnership Initiative (HPI) at Penn State, was the discussant and moderator for a session on the Healthcare Industry in the Pandemic at the Boston Labor Conference. The Conference was sponsored by the Labor Resource Center at UMass Boston.
March 9, 2022: Presented a webinar on “Labor-Management Partnerships: A Better Way to Deal With the Challenges Facing Healthcare Workplaces,” sponsored by Penn State’s Virtual LERA Chapter and the Center for Workplace Performance.
November 10, 2021: Paul Clark made a presentation to the Washington D.C. Labor and Employment Relations Association on Employment Relations in Healthcare: Is There a Better Way?
November 13, 2021: Peter Lazes is quoted in The Guardian: ‘A slap in the face’: nurses’ strike signals Kaiser’s end as union haven.’
What does HPI do?
The Healthcare Labor-Management Partnership Learning Collaborative (HPLC) will be a central focus of the HPI. The Collaborative is designed to serve as an ongoing network to connect existing labor-management partnerships in healthcare organizations and to encourage and assist the development of new healthcare partnerships. The Collaborative will facilitate discussions between healthcare partnerships to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences, help inform healthcare unions and employers contemplating partnership about the benefits and challenges of instituting such arrangements and conduct research about partnership processes and outcomes in the healthcare industry.
The Learning Collaborative’s first initiative took place from May to October 2021and involved five virtual learning sessions that brought together practitioners from five established healthcare partnerships around the country. Each session focused on a different challenge facing healthcare partnerships and provided an opportunity for the participating partnerships to share experiences and learn from each other. A team of academics and practitioners experienced in partnership planned and facilitated the sessions. The sessions were highly interactive and represented the first time the representatives of the five labor and management had an opportunity to exchange views and ideas.
The Collaborative will sponsor ongoing virtual networking sessions 3-4 times a year designed to bring together labor, management, neutral practitioners, and academics interested in healthcare partnerships. The sessions will include short presentations on substantive issues related to healthcare partnerships, as well as opportunities for ongoing partnerships around the country to exchange information about their latest challenges and accomplishments.
Collaborative participants will receive a monthly e-mail update on developments at partnerships around the country, as well as information about current research and upcoming Collaborative activities.
If you wish to be added to the Learning Collaborative mailing list, please send a note to Paul Clark, Partnership Initiative Coordinator.
The HPI will endeavor to raise the profile of Labor-Management Partnerships and encourage unions and employers in the healthcare industry to consider implementing partnerships in their workplaces.
The Partnership Initiative will publish op-eds and other materials designed to spread the word about the benefits of partnership.
The faculty of the HPI have considerable experience in planning and implementing partnerships in the healthcare industry. They are available to advise unions and employers who are considering partnership on a consulting basis.
Below are reports, books, academic articles, and useful websites for those interested in learning more about the partnership.
For those who want a thorough introduction to labor-management partnerships in healthcare, the Partnership Initiative recommends the 2020 book below written by Peter Lazes and Marie Rudden.
Lazes, Peter and Marie Rudden. 2020. From the Ground Up- How Frontline Staff Can Save America’s Healthcare. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Oakland, CA. (available at www. Berrett-Koehler)
Avgar, Ariel C., Julie A. Sadler, Paul F Clark, and Wonjoon Chung. 2016. “Labor-Management Partnership and Employee Voice: Evidence from the Healthcare Setting.” Industrial Relations, Volume 55, Issue 4, October 2016, pp. 576-603.
Clark, Paul F. and Darlene A. Clark. “Union Strategies for Improving Patient Care: The Key to Nurse Unionism.” Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 31, No. 1, Spring 2006, pp. 51-70.
Chapter in Ariel Avgar and Timothy Vogus, (eds.), The Evolving Healthcare Landscape: How Employees, Organizations, and Institutions Are Adapting and Innovating. Ithaca, NY: Cornell ILR Press, 2016.
Eaton, A., R. Givan, and P. Lazes, Labor-Management Partnerships in
Health Care: Responding to the Evolving Landscape, The Evolving Healthcare Landscape: How Employees, Organizations, and Institutions are Adapting and Innovating. 2016. LERA publication.
Kaiser-Permanente. 2021. Kaiser-Permanente Labor-Management Partnership Website. (This is the main website for the nation’s largest healthcare labor-management partnership. It includes a great deal of information about labor-management partnerships in general and the Kaiser-Permanente Partnership in particular.)
Kochan, Thomas, et al. 2009. Healing Together: The Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY (available here).
Lazes, Peter, Maria Figueroa, and Liana Katz. 2012. How Labor-Management Partnerships Improve Patient Care, Cost Control, and Labor Relations: Case Studies of Fletcher Allen Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, and Montefiore Medical Center’s Care Management Corporation.
Rodak, S. 2012. “Why Lean Might Not Be the Best Solution.” Becker’s Hospital Review, November 18.
Spear, S. 2011. “Why Best Practices Haven’t Fixed Health Care.” Harvard Business Review Blog, January 3.
Healthcare Labor-Management Partnership Initiative Faculty
Unions, union organizing, collective bargaining, labor-management partnerships, labor-management relations in the healthcare industry, nurses' unions, labor history