Nurses at three HCA hospitals join union

Nurses at three central Florida hospitals that are part of Nashville-based for-profit Hospital Corporation of America (NYSE: HCA) voted to unionize in November, according to the Florida Independent. The nurses voted to join the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida, an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), a union which represents nearly 160,000 nurses across the country.

Nurses at the 235-bed Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee voted to unionize in a 354 to 30 vote, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Things were slightly closer at the 208-bed Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, with nurses voting, 132 to 52, to unionize. RNs at Community Hospital in New Port Richey last week became the newest group of Florida nurses to join the NNOC-Florida by a vote of 155 to 73.

Nurses at other HCA hospitals in Florida will vote on unionizing later this week.

Florida has hardly been unionized to this point, and is a "wide open field" when it comes to nursing, Joanne Spetz, a professor of nursing and an economist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Business Journal. By her estimate, less than 10 percent of nurses in Florida belong to a union. In states like California, Washington and Hawaii, at least half of nurses are unionized. Overall, perhaps 20 percent of nurses in the U.S. are in a union.

Unionization can push overall health costs up, Spetz notes, because when union nurses get wage increases, wages for nurses at nonunion hospitals in the area may rise to stay competitive. On average, unionized nurses earn 8 percent more than nonunion nurses.

To learn more:
- read the National Nurses United press release
- read the Nashville Business Journal article
- here's the Florida Independent article

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