International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Ramon Borges-Mendez

Second Reader

Kathryn Madden


This paper analyzes women in health care unions by specifically examining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as a case study. Moreover, this paper asks: what motivates these health care workers; is it primarily patient care, or are there other significant issues? How do workers think about their product of care, and how does this affect unionism? And how is gender connected to these issues? After interviewing six health care workers in SEIU, this paper found that the motivation of health care workers is partially motivated by patient issues, but that this occurs in a negative sense. Union organizational limitations cause health care workers that are focused on their patients to become disillusioned with the union, despite helping patients being a motivator for the work itself. This paper also concludes that a large motivating factor is positive associations formed with unions at an early age, and the affect this has had on broader socio-political values. This paper concludes that there are necessary changes needed in union organizations such as SEIU. Nevertheless, unions remain vital for women, health care workers and workers more generally, even when unions perpetuate glaring imperfections



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.