Agents of Change: How Allied Healthcare Workers Transform Inequalities in the Healthcare Industry

  • Alethia Jones


This case offers a “bottom-up” view of the healthcare industry through the voices of workers essential to the industry’s operations, including unskilled and semiskilled titles. Allied healthcare workers are often invisible members of the healthcare workforce, revealing the industry’s own internal hierarchies of class, race, gender, and status. This case illuminates their struggles, successes, and challenges to end structural inequality in the workplace as they fight to transform low-wage, exploitative jobs into dignified, fairly compensated careers. Nonclinical members of the team are essential to improving patient care and obtaining structural change. Their knowledge and insight as partners are central to new innovations in care delivery. The case concludes with four ways to forge effective ties with worker and labor organizations to deepen structural competency within healthcare organizations.


Unions Allied healthcare workers 1199SEIU Charity Wages Hospitals Home care 



Heartfelt thanks to Sandi Vito (Executive Director, 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds) who conducted interviews with 1199SEIU members, Lloyd Conliffe and Melisa Saigo. Sandi, along with Yvonne Armstrong (1199SEIU Senior Executive Vice President for Long Term Care), provided critical early support and feedback. Barbara Caress’s erudition on health policy and 1199 history is unsurpassed, and she guided me to the Health Policy Advisory Center archives. Virginia Eubanks, Heidi Hamilton, and Catherine McLaren also provided close readings and insights.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alethia Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Open Society Foundations Fellowships ProgramNew YorkUSA

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