Determinants of registered nurse attitudes toward collective bargaining

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


In 1974 Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to include provisions specifically addressed to labor relations in the healthcare industry. Early expectations were that rapid union gains would be forthcoming. Those predictions proved incorrect. This study examines some factors which may help explain the unattractiveness of unions for a major segment of the health care para-professional workforce i.e., registered nurses. The study was designed to test a number of hypotheses concerning factors which may influence an individual’s decision to join a union.

Surveys were mailed to registered nurses in the states of Michigan and Virginia. The final data base consisted of 191 usable responses. Analysis of the data revealed no significant Pearson product moment correlations between attitudes toward collective bargaining and job satisfaction, level of professionalism, degree of work-related stress, and educational background. The survey instrument also included an item designed to measure behavioral intention. Inclusion of the behavioral intention construct proved valuable, as it provided evidence of the legitimacy of the distinction between attitudes. intention, and actual behavior.

Conclusions of the research suggest that registered nurses may represent a unique occupational group with respect to determinants of their collective bargaining sentiments. And because no discernable differences could be detected between samples from the states of Michigan and Virginia, the research also indicates that these results are applicable to registered nurses nationwide. In addition to determinants of attitudes toward collective bargaining a portion of the study was devoted to analysis of the relationship between professionalism and the work-related outcomes of job satisfaction and stress. Level of professionalism was not found to be significantly related to any of these variables.