Collective Bargaining by Physicians — Labor Law, Antitrust Law, and Organized Medicine


Collective bargaining has caught the imagination of physicians across the United States. Although physicians’ unions have existed since the 1970s, union members have always constituted an extremely small percentage of practicing physicians. However, physicians are turning to unions to increase their bargaining power with managed-care organizations. They are also viewing unions as a way to help reclaim their clinical autonomy and to preserve and enhance the quality of care. Struggles over reimbursement and physicians’ clinical prerogatives are likely to increase during the next decade as health care costs rise. In this article, we examine the relations and tensions between federal labor law and antitrust law in the context of collective bargaining between physicians and managed-care organizations.