ILR trio secures grant to study health care unions in the South

ILR scholars Director of Labor Education Research Kate Bronfenbrenner, Professor Ariel Avgar and Associate Professor Adam Seth Litwin have received a $250,000 grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation to study the role of unions in the health care industry in the South.

They will serve as the primary investigators leading an interdisciplinary team featuring researchers from MIT and Tougaloo College as they analyze the effects of unionization on worker voice, working conditions and patient care outcomes with a specific focus on workers of color in the South.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and thankful that they support this vital work studying unions and the health care system,” said Avgar, Ph.D. ’08 He is ILR’s senior associate dean for Outreach and sponsored research and the school’s David M. Cohen Professor of Labor Relations. “This study will be a nice continuation of the research that Adam and I have been doing, both separately and together.”

Avgar’s previous health care research focused on employment relations practices, as well as working conditions, especially for low-wage workers.

The project will develop recommendations for policymakers, health care organizations and unions with insights into leveraging worker voice to address challenges for multiple stakeholders.

“There has been little previous research about Black healthcare workers in the South,” Bronfenbrenner said. “This funding provides us with a unique opportunity to learn about their work and union experience.”

The study will build on a larger one that members of the team are conducting with HBCUs focused on the unionization experience of Black workers in the South.

Read the full story on the ILR website.

Julie Greco is a senior communications specialist at the ILR School.

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