This article examines a series of Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) campaigns for protection from needlestick injuries, led by women health-care workers, from the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s through battles over the 1992 OSHA standard on blood-borne pathogens and the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000. We argue that these campaigns developed in response to the growing physical precarity of women health-care workers in the era of “managed care,” caused by the intensification and flexibilization of health-care labor and the deregulation and underfunding of OSHA and the CDC. We show how women workers challenged employers, OSHA, and elected federal officials to address workplace health hazards, through unions like SEIU and women’s, gay rights, and public health organizations. More broadly, we argue that the occupational hazards of health-care workers are a crucial but underexplored facet of workplace studies and the history of women workers in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

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