Project Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of frontline health care workers in caring for vulnerable populations. Yet these workers, predominantly women of color and immigrants, typically earn low wages and lack adequate access to paid sick leave and other benefits. Such working conditions have negative effects on workers’ well-being and economic security and raise concerns about how working conditions affect patient care and service quality.

Policymakers, researchers, and advocates could consider whether labor market outcomes and patient care could improve if health care workers organized for better pay and working conditions. Led by a team at the Columbia Labor Lab, this project will explore these questions through quantitative and qualitative research methods. In partnership with a health care union, the team will study the impacts of collective action by health care workers and track a variety of labor market and care quality outcomes. This project will build evidence on the role of worker voice and representation in transforming low-wage jobs into good jobs and in creating safer health care settings.