Unions?

  1. Hello everyone!

    I'm a new grad taking a ICU position this fall in Los Angeles, and this hospital happens to have a union contract. Can someone please explain to me the benefits/drawbacks of unionizing? I believe I have an option on joining and I'd like to make an informed decision.

    Thanks so much!

    -Michelle
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Sheri257
    The bottom line with unions, IMO, is pay. The one hospital that went union in my area four years ago pays at least $3 an hour more than the non-union hospitals, which adds up to at least $5,600 more a year in base pay.

    Even though union dues are about $700 a year you're still $4,900 ahead than if you worked at a non-union hospital in the same area. And, of course, it makes even more of a difference when you work OT. The night and weekend differentials are also better.

    The non-union hospitals have raised their pay to some extent but, it always seems to lag behind the raises guaranteed by union contract. For example, after the union got a big raise one of the non-union hospitals finally did raise their pay to compete but ... by the time they did months later, yet another scheduled union pay raise kicked in. Non-union hospitals just seem to be slower when it comes to giving raises.

    You need to compare different hospitals in different areas because union hospitals don't always beat non-union hospitals when it comes to pay but, most of the time, they do. Union hospitals also tend to have better benefits.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Feb 12, '07
  4. by   caliotter3
    You need to research if you want to think about this a lot. Otherwise, it is very simple. If you sign the paperwork upon hire that you want to join, they will take X amt of money per pay check. If you sign the paperwork upon hire that you refuse to join, they will take the same X amt of money per pay check as service fees. You have accepted employment with a union shop.

    The union gets its money both ways or you go elsewhere for employment. The intricacies of employment place "office politics" if you join the Union are up to you to figure out. You can always join the union as a voting member in the future. But do you want to involve yourself in that scene? Up to you. Either way, member or non-member, the union gets part of your pay. Think about it, watch, and observe. It's your paycheck and your benefits. Union big shots and mgmt big shots never suffer!
  5. by   Freedom42
    I'd suggest getting a copy of the contract you'd work under; if you can't get your hands on one, the union might have a website that spells out benefits.

    A union contract is about a lot more than money. The contract spells out everything you can expect to receive on the job, what will be required of you and what management can and cannot demand. The contract will protect you against being fired for anything other than a specific cause that's spelled out by the employer, and typically the union will go to bat for you if you're subject to any kind of disciplinary action. (Before everyone starts flaming this post, yes, I know -- not all unions are good about representing employees in disciplinary proceedings. Unions are as strong as the people who belong to them and who take action.)

    I was a Teamster for many years. My contract guaranteed me time and a half any time I worked in excess of eight hours a day, double time in excess of 10 hours a day, triple time on holidays and triple time and a half should I be called to work on a scheduled vacation day. Yes, few of my vacations were interrupted. I received 10 paid vacation days a year, free long-term disability insurance and free dental care. I had a clothing allowance. When my boss tried to deny my right to take off consecutive weeks of vacation, all I had to do was point to the contract. I also had the first right to apply for any other jobs that opened up in the shop before management advertised them to the public. As I mentioned, this contract also spelled out what was expected of union employees, such as the least-senior person being required to work when all other members of the bargaining unit refuse. (Be sure you know what's required of you -- and recognize that you will be called upon to make sacrifices -- if your contract is based on seniority. Newbies who were thrilled at the idea of triple time but shocked that they could be forced to work always drove me crazy.)

    This cost me 1 percent of my base pay. Your dues are tax-deductible, by the way. You might also want to find out if your union charges an initiation fee on top of the dues; some can be hefty. They usually give you a year to pay those fees off.
  6. by   inspir8tion
    I work at a union hospital. We never got any information on it during orientation, but money goes out of our paychecks nonetheless. I have been working for 9 months and just received something in the mail from the union asking me if I want to join (if not, I still have to pay). I do, however, make about $500 more per month than when I started 9 months ago.
  7. by   TazziRN
    I will not work for a non-union shop unless I have no choice. Being in a union can keep you from getting fired without cause, in addition to the pay and benefits.
  8. by   CMCRN
    Quote from inspir8tion
    I work at a union hospital. We never got any information on it during orientation, but money goes out of our paychecks nonetheless. I have been working for 9 months and just received something in the mail from the union asking me if I want to join (if not, I still have to pay). I do, however, make about $500 more per month than when I started 9 months ago.
    The hospitals generally don't like the unions because they are forced to honor the contract and so no info allowed in orientation I guess. Seek out a union rep RN to get info, copy of contract. The union protects you from management practices dramatically profiled on this web site in many other parts of the country. I work in a union hospital and would not have it any other way. They may also have a web site with info. Joining the union allows you to vote on issues and contracts.

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