How do Unions save your nursing job?

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    I wanted to post this question under the thread which contained the objection form (taking an assignment and filling out a form, aka Safe Harbor), but did not want to hijack their thread.

    I want to know more about unions. Where I work, it is an "at will employer", meaning they may fire you with or without reason. Do unions protect you from this?

    If anyone has any feedback, another question I have is this: Does anyone know if union based facilities have better retention of nurses?

    Right now at work, there is a huge drop in morale, as administration stated to the nurses when corporate people were in , "When corporate is here, they are right. You are wrong. Shut your mouth." This came about after a condescending woman in a suit was watching me do my med pass and juggle an admit, then have one brought to my floor (without my knowledge). I simply stated to this woman, "Communication could be better here; If I'd known I had this other admit coming, this could be prevented." (referring to her negative comments and raising her voice about our attending being unprofessional and in a hurry and just 'horrid' to the patient caregiver).

    Anyway, the long and short of it, I was given a final written warning, stating that if I break any company policy I am immediately terminated. Because, "You are NOT to talk to other people about our problems. You do NOT talk to corporate. You refer them to ME." ("me" is the administrator who cornered me in the kitchen).

    I still have refused to sign the write-up. She says that what I did was unprofessional. (Umm...I didn't yell. I didn't REFUSE the assignment; I simply stated that advance notification would have been helpful). Imagine a woman and a man coming to you; man with huge wound on face standing in front of you. Woman starts asking you about how to treat it. (And you are in the middle of giving meds, and a new admit, and you wonder who these people are and why they are asking you medical advice).

    And this condescending corporate individual (who I didn't know was corporate) informs you that this is a new admit to your hall, and stated in a loud voice, "Don't you tell me you didn't know about this admit. The person sitting right here in this chair---as she's tapping gruffly on the chair with her ink pen---took this message!"

    Bottom line: I did NOT doing anything wrong. Well, I guess I did. I wasn't a good Stepford Nurse and cheerfully say, "Oh, so glad you are here. How may I help you?"

    I didn't have a right to feel under pressure? They get angry with us for overtime, but two admits plus medicare charting on 17 people, and all the other redundant forms they need us to fill out before we leave....isn't that enough already?

    I witnessed the administrator call our unit, get the social worker on the phone and, in front of all of us, instruct the maintenance man to "Shut up and quit complaining and just move these people" when we made several room changes and maintenance man was overwhelmed.

    I'm not kidding here..."Shut up." "Shut your mouth." These are ver batim words we are told.

    So the point of my vent is this: Would a union shelter/protect its employees from these bogus write-ups and mistreatment?

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks for your time
    Emma
    lindarn, rabbitgirrl, laborer, and 1 other like this.
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  4. 29 Comments so far...

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    Undoubtedly it would lead to a professionalization of management. The other thing you would gain s a due process protection. The administrator has something to hide IMO.
    lindarn, rabbitgirrl, and Emma123 like this.
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    So the point of my vent is this: Would a union shelter/protect its employees from these bogus write-ups and mistreatment?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Unionizing does not solve all problems by any means, but nurses can not be arbitrarily fired or disciplined without due process. And no one where I work would put up with the kind of scenes you describe for a minute. Nor would they be expected to.
    In the absence of a union contract, most people in America are "at will" employees. It is only the contract and proper grievance procedures that give you some measure of protection on the job.

    And, flipping it around for a minute, my experience is that unions, at least my union, do not protect lazy or incompetent nurses. We don't want to follow or work next to the nurse who doesn't do their job. Nor do we want to put our patients at risk. What we do though, is require managers to do their jobs - by properly documenting a nurse's failures, fairly informing them of the standards they are expected to meet and giving them a fair opportunity to correct their behavior before they are fired. Not an unreasonable expectation.
    janfrn, NRSKarenRN, HM2VikingRN, and 4 others like this.
  7. 2
    Quote from Chico David RN
    So the point of my vent is this: Would a union shelter/protect its employees from these bogus write-ups and mistreatment?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Unionizing does not solve all problems by any means, but nurses can not be arbitrarily fired or disciplined without due process. And no one where I work would put up with the kind of scenes you describe for a minute. Nor would they be expected to.
    In the absence of a union contract, most people in America are "at will" employees. It is only the contract and proper grievance procedures that give you some measure of protection on the job.

    And, flipping it around for a minute, my experience is that unions, at least my union, do not protect lazy or incompetent nurses. We don't want to follow or work next to the nurse who doesn't do their job. Nor do we want to put our patients at risk. What we do though, is require managers to do their jobs - by properly documenting a nurse's failures, fairly informing them of the standards they are expected to meet and giving them a fair opportunity to correct their behavior before they are fired. Not an unreasonable expectation.
    Thank you for your response.

    So....how do I get a union involved in my company? (Or is that not an option....please excuse me if that is an "uber" dumb question).
    lindarn and rabbitgirrl like this.
  8. 2
    Quote from HM2Viking
    Undoubtedly it would lead to a professionalization of management. The other thing you would gain s a due process protection. The administrator has something to hide IMO.
    Thank you for your post. We think the same thing about the administrator. We just lost 5 people, including the ONLY full time physical therapist who was very good. So now my "rehab" unit is with fill in therapists, not those that know the facility and have 10 years vested in the company. This administrator has ruined a lot here, unfortunately.
    lindarn and rabbitgirrl like this.
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    Quote from Emma123
    Thank you for your response.

    So....how do I get a union involved in my company? (Or is that not an option....please excuse me if that is an "uber" dumb question).
    Not even slightly a dumb question: But not a question with a short or simple answer. Unions get organized in a facility when nurses from the facility contact a union and express interest. The union - assuming they organize in your area and have staff available - then sends out an organizer to check things out, meets with nurses in small groups, forms a committee and starts a campaign that eventually leads to an election. That's a very simplified version of a much longer story. The trick is to find the right union. I'm frankly prejudiced in favor of my union - CNA/NNOC (which is no longer just in California) - but there are other good ones. Probably about half of the state nurses associations do collective bargaining. That means they act as both professional organization and union, and they tend to have the best grasp of nurse issues. They should be the first place to look. In the states where the state assn. doesn't do collective bargaining - mostly states in the south and non-coastal west - it can be hard to find a union that's interested, and if you do, they may not do as good a job as a real nurse-run union that has the specialty RN focus. But I'd start with the web site of your state assn. to see if they do collective bargaining.
    Your story, by the way, is another good example of an old saying: Managers are our best organizers. In other words: A lot of facilities get unionized because of really bad managers.
    janfrn, HM2VikingRN, mdfog10, and 6 others like this.
  10. 4
    I can't even begin to thank you for the information you shared. I will definitely look into it and see who may be interested in this.
    When you say it comes down to a vote, I am assuming that a for profit organization such as mine, that administration could over-rule the nurses. There are way more chiefs than Indians, as they say. We're short staffed and the same nurses pick up tons of extra shifts. (TPTB probably know this; that makes our vote even less, if it is democracy-based).
    As I said, the morale is really bad where I am at. My coworkers and the CNA's are exemplary in my opinion. We pretty much support each other.
    I recently read an article on this board about morale and loss of hope (I can't remember the name of it; I'll look it up) within the medical profession, and essentially being bullied into submission and being fearful of standing up or speaking out d/t consequences up to termination. I was told this morning that in two years, my facility has fired 40 nurses. YES, 40. I realize it works to the facility's advantage to pay the "nominal" fee of a physical/background check. The orientation was "watch what this nurse does" for three shifts for me. Not much went into training me, money-wise or even time. They didn't have someone off the floor go through admissions forms, etc. They made the poor preceptor work the hall PLUS try to train me. One of my former patients was a director of nursing in a prison and told me it is more cost effective to a company to have turnover than to retain and pay out long term benefits and retirement funds. Since I work for (my opinion here) and unethical company, the picture this pt painted for me makes sense.

    The long and short of it, when it comes down to voting, believe me, there are way more mgmt, marketing, and corporate fools than nurses. We are way outnumbered. So another question (sorry) is, if the facility and TPTB decided against it (as they, with 100% certainty, would), even if the nurses all decided "YES", it's still THEIR company, right? They can still have the final say? Or bully us to the point of being fearful to even vote in the first place. ?

    I just wanted to investigate into this some more and I really appreciate your posts and help.

    Thanks again,
    Emma
    mdfog10, lindarn, herring_RN, and 1 other like this.
  11. 5
    EMMA123 , If your facility nurses were to organize with a union , itwould only involve the nurses , it does not matter how many chiefs there are ,because they will not be voting .
    mdfog10, lindarn, herring_RN, and 2 others like this.
  12. 1
    Emma123 wrote:
    The long and short of it, when it comes down to voting, believe me, there are way more mgmt, marketing, and corporate fools than nurses. We are way outnumbered. So another question (sorry) is, if the facility and TPTB decided against it (as they, with 100% certainty, would), even if the nurses all decided "YES", it's still THEIR company, right? They can still have the final say? Or bully us to the point of being fearful to even vote in the first place. ?

    In a union election, only the workers who are being organized have a vote. In hospitals, there are a standard set of bargaining units that have been decided by the National Labor Relations Board and various court precedents. Each bargaining unit votes separately. The RNs by themselves are always one bargaining unit. Another unit is the technical unit, which is mostly LVN/LPNs, RTs and others at that level. There's a "service" unit, which is typically cafeteria workers, nurses aides, housekeepers. And so on. Supervisors never have a vote. But will do everything possible to intimidate and scare nurses into voting against organizing. Best of luck to you.
    mdfog10 likes this.
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    Thank you for starting this thread. You rule!

    So, I think you should organize quietly. If I know my history correctly, people who make the attempt to unionize DO get fired. And it is not beyond some to threaten that person outside of work - sometimes with blackballing, sometimes with actual physical threats.

    But think of this. A job is just a job. You can get another. This management style threatens your license your patients, and your health. The loss of any of these is not worth ANY one job.

    The thing about these unethical money-grubbers is that they will continue whipping nurses until someone makes them stop. They clearly don't have any regard for nurses' (or patients') health, sanity or for what is physically possible. This sort of employee abuse was very prevelant in another industry I worked in--so much so, in fact, that it had a name. It was called 'Burn 'em and Turn 'em. Another trick was to keep everyone at part time, so that no-one got benefits, and everyone was starving and willing to sell each other out or do anything to get more hours.

    When people are oppressed, they usually turn on each other, and this is especially true for female-dominated, caregiving industries, since women tend to be more introspective and caregivers expect (and are expected) to "go the extra mile" for free. There is actually research (from the early 00s) that shows that, generally, when a man fails at something, he thinks, "that was really hard, no-one could have done it" and when a woman fails at something, she thinks, "I wasn't good enough". Unethical employers know this.

    Unions are not always all good, but union organizers are heros. They are the ones who speak truth to power and stand up for those who are vulnerable. Who does that sound like? Right! Nurses!

    Thank you for starting this thread, I have learned a lot here.
    amojo99, brocantes, HM2VikingRN, and 5 others like this.


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