Nursing Unions...what are the downsides?

  1. 1 The hospital that I am interested in working at after graduation has a nurse's union. When I happened to mention it to a friend of mine who is currently an RN at a different hospital, she said she would never work where there is a union. She wouldn't really elaborate on why she felt unions were bad and I really can't see too many negatives myself. What are your opinions on unionized hospitals?
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  3. Visit  ohcomeon profile page

    About ohcomeon

    38 Years Old; Joined Jul '08; Posts: 183; Likes: 243.

    21 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  SummitRN profile page
    Rewards are by seniority, not merit.
    Protection of bad employees.
    PNP1965, Pepper The Cat, nursejoed, and 3 others like this.
  5. Visit  Chico David RN profile page
    I'm strongly pro-union so take this with that in mind. Most Americans today have experienced a life time of anti-union propaganda, so many people have negative opinions but don't really know why. It's clearly true that some unions are better than others. I'm a fan of nurse-run unions for nurses.
    When people ask what the negative is my best answer is that to make a union work, the members have to get involved. If everyone just sits back the union won't be successful or serve you well.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, matt2401, and 8 others like this.
  6. Visit  Up2nogood RN profile page
    If you research who has gotten significant raises in this economy you will find it's mostly union nurses. Who has had pay cuts and lay offs? Non union facilities.
    lmferrrentino, lindarn, ohcomeon, and 3 others like this.
  7. Visit  caliotter3 profile page
    A union is composed of people with all the strengths and weaknesses of people. Just because they speak of fairness toward all, does not mean that fairness exists. There is a sense of politics and its negatives all connected to the union and the people in the union who wield power. Instead of having one political "system" to deal with, the employee has two.
    Not_A_Hat_Person, ohcomeon, and wtbcrna like this.
  8. Visit  want2banurse35 profile page
    While I am not a nurse at my last job we did have a union and thank goodnesses we did because the Texas-based company was breaking all kinds of California laws and we were powerless to stop them until we voted in the union. I do agree there are bad ones and good ones.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, ohcomeon, and 2 others like this.
  9. Visit  tyvin profile page
    I wouldn't work at a place that wasn't protected by a union.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, ohcomeon, and 2 others like this.
  10. Visit  dthfytr profile page
    I have 3 thoughts on the topic. IMHO:
    In principal, I think unions have their place, and nursing sorely needs to be united and better represented which only a union seems able. Professional nursing organizations have failed miserably in this way.
    Unionization seems to create a game between unions and management. For every action there's a counter action.
    I worked in a non nursing union for several years. I got called on the carpet by the union because I was making my job look too easy, and therefore making other (dues paying) union members look bad. Seemed like mediocrity was favored.
    PNP1965 and ohcomeon like this.
  11. Visit  UnionRN2 profile page
    Downside: 1. dues 2. politics 3. seniority rules which are unfair to the lower senior people

    Upside: 1. Better staff/patient ratios 2. Higher wages 3. better benefits 4. administration can't just make stupid and arbitrary rules that jeopardize patient care and safety 5. defined pension plans 6. NLRB rules

    Of course I am a strong union supporter!
    Jarnaes, lindarn, ohcomeon, and 2 others like this.
  12. Visit  Ruby Vee profile page
    union dues is one downside -- other than that, i see mostly positives.

    and for those who mentioned getting vacations, etc. by seniority -- you may not like it if you're low senior, but at least it's fair. it's measurable and it's objective. everyone knows what the decisions are based on, so the manager cannot arbitrarily give summer vacation to her friends and make someone else take theirs in march.

    i had a much better salary when i was working for a union hospital, and the working conditions were better as well.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, tyvin, and 3 others like this.
  13. Visit  Chico David RN profile page
    Quote from UnionRN2
    Downside: 1. dues 2. politics 3. seniority rules which are unfair to the lower senior people

    Upside: 1. Better staff/patient ratios 2. Higher wages 3. better benefits 4. administration can't just make stupid and arbitrary rules that jeopardize patient care and safety 5. defined pension plans 6. NLRB rules

    Of course I am a strong union supporter!
    I'll just mention that the role of seniority varies a lot from contract to contract. In my union, many of our older contracts are very seniority heavy. The longest serving nurses get preference on everything. whether that's fair or not depends on where you are looking from. But many of our newer contracts, seniority plays much less of a role. Things like holidays, call-off, etc tend to be rotated and shared more evenly among nurses. I tend to favor a balance, where seniority plays a part, but not an overwhelming part.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, herring_RN, and 2 others like this.
  14. Visit  Davey Do profile page
    Quote from SummitAP
    Rewards are by seniority, not merit.
    Protection of bad employees.
    I quoted SummitAP because I could not put it any better. However, I would like to expand upon the basic concept:

    Unions take the power from the Individual and, in an attempt to make things fair across the board, make all abide by the guidelines that are established through a compromised process.

    I have worked with both Union and Non-Union Hospitals. I have been able to deal directly with Administrators in both punitive and advancement issues with and without a Union Representative. I have been able to rectify situations, or advance in positions much more efficaciously without the Union involvement.

    I have been terminated from jobs in a Non-Union workplace. That's okay. Our relationship was not symbiotic. I would not adhere to their tenets and they didn't appreciate my work ethic.

    I have also advanced in positions in Non-Union workplaces. I could not have done so, had a Union been involved. Someone with more seniority and less experience or know-how would have gotten the position. But I was willing to do what it took; I have put my expertise to the test, worked unsavory jobs and hours, in order to advance.

    Unionize if you wish. I would rather fly or fall on my own merit.

    Thank you for allowing me my say.

  15. Visit  newway profile page
    The dues are the only major downfall, but if you look at the wage of a non union vs. Union it will usually more than make up for it. Yes I know there are exceptions to this but as a general rule it holds true. The other down fall is the lazy guy is paid just as much as the go getter, but in our union seniority had nothing to do with who was laid off first, so the under performers were the first to be laid off no matter how long they worked there, or been in the union (well unless you are the bosses brother, but that is anywhere LOL)

    I am not an RN yet just currently applying but I was a union bricklayer for a number of years. The union is a plus in most cases. Here is the first example that came to my head. When things started slowing down in construction the company I worked for started playing all sorts of games to try and save money. One brilliant idea was that workers would have to bring their lunches and breaks up on the scaffold ( it would be the equivalent of forcing nurses to eat at the nursing station and not be able to go down to get a cup of coffee). The writing was on the wall that layoffs were coming so no one wanted to be the one to speak up about it. So instead of someone speaking up and most likely getting layed off for doing so. We just called our business agent, and told him. the next day he showed up at break time and asked the foreman why everyone was on the scaffold at break time. He then pointed out that this was a violation of contract and could fine the company. Needless to say that was the last day that happened, and no one had to be the bad guy because they had no clue who had reported them.

    There is also a shop Stewart that keeps an hour log of workers to make sure overtime and like are being paid properly (and someone to report to if not). When I was a non union, a company I worked for would not pay overtime, but would force you to stay if they needed you, and without a union it was take it or leave it. So I took it because I needed the job, and with no one to fight for me I had little choice.
    Jarnaes, lindarn, and ohcomeon like this.

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