Service Employees International Union's proposed 2014 ballot measures in Oregon and California may be the vanguard of a national movement.
In October, Oregon's SEIU Local 49 filed five measures in Salem aimed at greater transparency around prices and outcomes, minimum levels of uncompensated care and compensation caps for executives.
Although it is unclear how many if any of those measures will make the ballot, The Wall Street Journal reported today the measures may be in part a tactic to organize more hospital workers.
In recent years, the 1.9 million-member SEIU has bucked the nationwide trend in membership declines, in part by organizing thousands of health-care workers, security guards and janitors after negotiating neutrality agreements with companies.The current tactic has been tried previously but not on such a large scale," the Journal wrote. Meg Niemi, president of the Oregon SEIU local backing the initiatives in that state, said it hasn't otherwise been able to improve the affordability and quality of health care through cooperation with the industry. She said the union isn't seeking a neutrality agreement, but is interested in organizing members. "The best way to be able to address these issues [of affordability and quality] is making sure that the folks that provide the care in the hospitals have a voice."