Dietitians' attitudes toward collective bargaining and unionization: an empirical investigation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This study was an empirical investigation regarding attitudes of professional dietitians toward collective bargaining and unionization. It focused upon providing answers to several questions which were developed into seventeen hypotheses. A questionnaire was constructed, pre-tested, and administered to 1,881 randomly selected members of The American Dietetic Association (ADA). An overall response rate of 59.22 percent was obtained.

Attitudes were investigated along demographic and geographic dimensions. Statement-response question choices ranged from 1, strongly disagree with the statement, indicating an unfavorable attitude toward collective bargaining, to 5, strongly agree with the statement, indicating a favorable attitude. Responses to selected questions were designated as Collective Bargaining Attitude Scores (CBAS) which were utilized in analyzing the classification and geographical data. Major statistical methods employed to evaluate responses were analysis of variance, binomial test, t-test, correlation coefficient, and Duncan's New Multiple Range test.

In general, the respondents were representative of The American Dietetic Association membership. Approximately 5.3 percent of the dietitians responding belonged to a professional union or labor organization. The overall mean Collective Bargaining Attitude Score for all respondents was 2.63, indicating slightly unfavorable attitudes toward collective bargaining.

Significant differences in the attitudes expressed by dietitians were indicated when the Collective Bargaining Attitude Scores were statistically analyzed in relation to the classification dimensions. The evidence suggested significant differences at the designated 0.01 level within the following classifications: place of employment, age, educational status, annual income, length of ADA membership, union membership, employment status, major job responsibility, and employment location. No significant difference was determined for the six geographic areas as defined by The American Dietetic Association.

Several inferences were drawn from the above results. Younger dietitians with less years of ADA membership appeared more favorable toward collective bargaining than dietitians in advanced age levels with more years of ADA membership. Dietitians employed in government agencies and public health were more favorable toward collective bargaining than those in health-care facilities and self-employed levels. While the percentage of dietitians having union membership was small (5.32 percent) in comparison to non-union members, indications were that union members had a favorable attitude toward collective bargaining.

Overall, dietitians did not indicate collective bargaining as the best means of increasing their professional well-being. However, dietitians did strongly express interest in The American Dietetic Association continuing its efforts in the area of labor relations.