Nursing Unions: Pros and Cons

  1. 1
    Hello all,

    At my school I am currently involved in creating a presentation that will discuss the pros and cons of having a Nursing Union and the pros and cons of not having a Nursing Union.

    I have found some good (but not particularly great) sources about the benefits of nursing unions but have not found much on the benefits of not having a union.

    One question I have is : Do nursing unions contribute to nursing complacency? I imagine this could be a problem but I have not found any literature to back this up. Of course that is just one concern I can think of. I need to present more on both sides of the issue. Does anyone know of some good articles or other resources that address this topic?

    Last edit by lookup on Jun 2, '11
    lindarn likes this.

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  3. 34 Comments...

  4. 1
    I work for a hospital that is union. One of the Con's is that there is lazy nurses, who make everyone miserable while doing absolutely minimal work and they cannot be fired. We have one nurse that is 15-30 minutes late every shift. Us night shift nurses pray we do not have to give report to her so we can get out in a decent time. We have a charge nurse who is a nightmare during the day, and says everything is night shifts fault and I do not know a nurse that wish she was not fired for her behavior. There have been numerous incident reports made because of her behavior. Since we are union we are stuck with her. Basically unless someone falls asleep at night, and gets caught no one gets fired. It is truly a bad thing. On the other hand there is a lot of job security.
    lindarn likes this.
  5. 3
    We are union at my hospital, and they fire nurses easily, it seems to me. They (Mgrs/admin) pore over every days charting on that person, find the mistakes (as no one is perfect 100% of the time), buld a case, make multiple trips to HR, then, Bye! It is kind of scary. So I don't see the union as protecting me there, at least at my hospital.

    I am totally in favor of unions/labor rights, ect, but our union seems to be neglecting our hospital (out of the many area hospitals they represent) IMO. They rarely communicaete anything with us, even during the layoff threat period, ect I have been disappointed with this particular union. (But we will get emails about their State lobbying and how we should contact our representatives about this issue or that, and they seemed focused on the national climate-- like the recent strike in Chicago-- via email. But they can't seem to email us on OUR news.

    I have emailed the union about this lack of communication, and they emailed back, not a reply to my concerns, but 'do i want to be a representative'....Maybe I am just not getting it.
    Sisyphus, Not_A_Hat_Person, and lindarn like this.
  6. 1
    Texas is a right-to-work state, which means even if my hospital goes union I do not have to join. Unions are limited legally by what they can accomplish for the worker, although a lot of people believe otherwise. It would be good research for you to determine what they can/cannot actually provide. A friend who used to work in CA said her major complaint was not being able to work things out between your supervisor and the staff. EVERYTHING had to be approved by the Union first. So if you are wanting off next week due to family event, you have to get it pre-approved as opposed to just asking a co-worker to switch days with you. Unions have decreased in size (all trades) because the benefits for workers that unions pushed for are mostly covered by law now. So there is little need for them.
    eglide87 likes this.
  7. 1
    my hospital is union.

    pros to unions is they set the precedent for other hospitals to compete with pay/benefits/staffing

    cons to unions are it protects undeserving nurses. there is usually not much incentive to get more education as everything is based on seniority. low seniority nurses tend to get the shaft on everything (holiday bids, other time off, getting pulled to other units, getting cancelled during low census). most non union hospitals do all these things rotationally, which is fair.
    WIN007 likes this.
  8. 3
    "Oh, baby, baby... you KNOW, I'll still love you in the morning".


    "Just vote the union in and we'll take care of you for the length of the contract. No, really."

    Same o' same o'.

    For the particularly large unions that organize nurses... look at the mega$$ pulled down by the muckitymucks. Look at the cumulative amount of $$ nurses lose out of their pay-checks over the life of the contract. At our hospital alone, it's in the 7 figures, easy. Multiply that for hospitals across the country.

    Also, look into the political corruption they promote, since they will underwrite any candidate that supports card-check or any other union-backed regulation.

    Finally, though most hospitals with unions have earned them by being sucky managers/administrators... it is nevertheless true that when a nurse has a union she has two pimps instead of just one.
  9. 2
    Our union is responsible for our staffing ratios, for getting workshop time paid for, for scheduling practices ( at least 11 or 16 hours between shifts), at least every third weekend off or time and half for third one. Also decent retirement setups, both staff and hosp. contribute, (not pension plans anymore) but the IRA types of savings.

    Our contract spells out discipinary steps so you don't get fired out of hand but have an opportunity to correct things. Being chronically late, can start a disciplinary process, don't start showing up on time, yeah you can get in trouble. Get warned, stop being late, you're good.

    We were taken over by a chain, no longer an independent community hospital. The new folks keep trying to tell us that isn't what the contract says, when they weren't even here when it was negotiated. They want to do away with a lot of the protections that we have (participation in planned changes, staffing, etc.

    So while my dues cost a fair bit, the peace of mind when it comes to scheduling, insurances, etc. makes it worth it.
    Another con: I do not agree with many of the political endorsements and policies the national office supports, I don't like my dues going there.
    IowaKaren and lindarn like this.
  10. 2
    for this often asked question, might want to use our search engine top right corner of site or peruse our collective bargaining and nursing union discussion forum.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 10, '11
    lindarn and herring_RN like this.
  11. 2
    Thanks for the responses. I didn't know there was an AllNurses FORUM specifically on this topic, as referenced in the above post. I even found a paper on this subject at . This has been very helpful.

    I have done Google and ProQuest searches with limited success in finding good articles on this subject. If anyone knows of some particularly good published articles, that would be great.
    lindarn and herring_RN like this.
  12. 3
    Have you tried CINAHAL or PUBMED search engines? those are specific for health care, little more focused than google. You should have access through your school.
    NRSKarenRN, lindarn, and WIN007 like this.

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