Dragos Adascalitei, Aurelian Muntean
When Striking Works: The Case of Unions in the Healthcare Sector in Romania

8th ECPR General Conference, University of Glasgow, 03. bis 06. September 2014

The article examines the impact of the recent crisis on collective bargaining by analyzing healthcare trade unions. It challenges the views according to which trade unions are uniformly weak or weakened by the crisis. We argue that the unions in the Romanian healthcare sector were capable of using their organizational resources to set the governmental agenda and obtain tangible benefits through negotiations. These benefits amounted to a significant increase in the budgetary resources for healthcare. We find that the main strategy used by unions for pushing their agenda was to organize strikes in different hospitals across the country and to threat with the organization of general strike. To support our argument we use interviews with union leaders and governmental representatives. As a counterfactual test for our claims we use interviews with unions in the Education sector, where unions adopted a more cooperative stance and did not succeed in enhancing their welfare.