NYSNA/ unions - what exactly is it?Register Today!
This is a discussion on NYSNA/ unions - what exactly is it? in Collective Bargaining / Nursing Union, part of General Nursing ... I'm so new to the working world. I always hear about unions but what exactly do you do as a...by mcpnurse Feb 25, '10I'm so new to the working world. I always hear about unions but what exactly do you do as a member? The fees that you pay to be part of it, what is that for? What are the benefits and cons of being in a union?
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- Feb 25, '10 by Chico David RNOh my - big question and you will get a huge range of opinion on the subject. You reference NYSNA in your title, so I'll answer in that direction. Let me first say that I am a strong union supporter and you will surely got other opinions from those who feel differently.
NYSNA is one of the state nurses associations that do collective bargaining - about half of them do. So in that state it is both union and professional association. In New York I'm pretty sure that "union shop" contracts are permitted, so if you work at a place that has such a contract you have to pay dues to work there. Dues mainly go to the cost of representation - union staff who negotiate contracts and help to protect the nurses' rights in the workplace, enforce the contract, etc; the cost of government relations - staff in the state capitol who work to pass laws that protect nursing practice and even more to prevent the passage of laws that degrade it; and finally the cost of new organizing - campaigns to unionize hospitals that are not unionized.
The state nurses associations are generally some of the most democratic of unions - there are lots of opportunities to get involved, run for office, serve on committees, etc. There are a lot of unions that are not mainly nurse unions that represent some nurses, especially in the states where the state nurses assn doesn't do collective bargaining. I'm a fan of nurse run unions for nurses - I think they generally do a better job of stuff on the practice side and understand the needs of nurses better. Every union has both officers - members elected by their peers to be leaders - and staff - people hired to do the day to day work of running the union.
When you work in a unionized hospital, much of your conditions of work, including wages and benefits and some aspects of things like schedules and so on are determined by the union contract - an agreement between the management of that hospital and the union. If you have choices of where to work in your first job, looking at the contract is not a bad idea - it has info in wages and such and also on a lot of other stuff that may matter to you. Some people, mostly those who are anti-union, will try to tell you things like "all unions do such and such". But the truth is that there is a lot of variation among unions and even a lot of variation among contracts in the same union. Just for one example, in my union in California, some contracts put enormous emphasis on seniority - the most senior nurses get the best schedules, float last, get called off less, etc. But other contracts tend to rotate those things and seniority matters a lot less in those hospitals. All a matter of history and what the nurses in each place prefer.
Hope that helps a bit.