An investigation of the participation of social workers in unions
Rosenberg, Jessica Millet
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This study examined attitudes toward, and level of participation in trade unions among social worker union members. Inquiries concerning the relationship between social workers and unions are scarce and have tended to utilize a historical approach. A small number of empirical studies have primarily focused on an instrumentalist perspective based on the utilitarian aspects of union membership alone i.e., financial rewards. The current study attempts to contribute to the social work knowledge base by examining the perceptions of instrumentalism and values affecting union participation.;The type of study was quantitative. Data were gathered by use of a structured questionnaire that was mailed to respondents' homes. The statistical methods utilized included descriptive statistics, ANOVA, factor analysis, and multiple regression analysis. The sample for the study was comprised of social worker union members of the 1199-SEIU Health and Human Service Union in New York City. Three hundred and sixty respondents completed and returned the questionnaire, for a 32.7% return rate.;Findings suggest that social workers do not perceive union participation to be incompatible with professionalism. Values are a stronger predictor of union participation than perceived personal benefit. Gender and ethnicity have a significant relationship to union commitment, with men and social workers of color reporting a higher level of union commitment than women and white social workers. Age is also a significant factor, with younger social workers less likely to participate in unions than their older counterparts. Findings also suggest that pro-union attitudes have limited influence on union participation. This study has generated empirical information toward the development of a better understanding of some of the factors affecting social workers' involvement in unions.