Professionals or "workers" - page 2

by blackribbon

11,165 Views | 97 Comments

I am attending nursing school in Michigan, a very "union" state. I have recently moved here from Texas, a right to work state. There is a big political issue going on here about Right-to-work. And until people started posting... Read More


  1. 11
    Quote from blackribbon
    However, it seems like one of the complaints that I have heard is that nurses are not treated like professionals (and when I am using this term, I am meaning degreed and licenced), but by being "union" doesn't that kind of imply that we aren't the same status as the professions that don't need unions...like the doctors, engineers, and lawyers?
    The truth is that we're not of the same status as the professionals you mentioned. Nurses are powerful lobbyists against themselves (see the BSN-for-entry debate that has been raging for five decades). We are the only profession which does not require a bachelor's degree for entry to practice. I'm not going to throw stones, since I have an ASN and have no intention of getting a BSN, but most would not consider any job which requires an associate's degree (which are largely technical in nature) to be a profession at the same level of lawyers and physicians, who are awarded professional doctorates. I think there is some deep-rooted misogyny involved, too. Nurses are essentially pawns in the health care game, and each one of us is seen as an expense to administrators. If they feel that they can do with less of us and shovel more crap onto our to-do lists, they will do so. Unions can help assure safe staffing and fair wages, which upper management wouldn't otherwise be interested in.

    Nursing is rough. Be thankful that you are in a union-friendly state. I sometimes drool when I read what posters from California say about their working conditions.
    anotherone, multi10, barnstormin', and 8 others like this.
  2. 5
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    I call BS.

    Calling hundreds of thousands of past, future, and present RNs status "demeaning" is a bad way to start a conversation you hope to learn something from.

    Hope you pick up some manners in Michigan.
    Well, that added greatly to the discussion.
  3. 6
    Quote from blackribbon
    I appreciate everyone who has answered my question. As for the person who was concerned about my use of "demeaning"...well, I'm talking about my chosen career path too...

    If I live in an area where the majority of nurses are union, I will be union whether or not I'm thrilled about it. I am a team player.

    However, it seems like one of the complaints that I have heard is that nurses are not treated like professionals (and when I am using this term, I am meaning degreed and licenced), but by being "union" doesn't that kind of imply that we aren't the same status as the professions that don't need unions...like the doctors, engineers, and lawyers?

    Are other health care professionals unionized? Respiratory Therapists....Registered Dieticians....Physical Therapists? (For the person who felt I was incapable of using Google, I did google both the original question and this one before posting...and didn't find any specialized unions for any of these professions. I have since found that there are a few engineering unions but they definitely are in the minority and are very small.)

    My husband was a Teamster. The union managed our health care and it was provided through the union, including retirement benefits. I have a friend who is a union Electrician. Not only is the health care and retirement managed by the union, the union finds them their jobs and paid them a small amount of money when they were "laid off". Do the nursing unions provide services like this? ... or what services do they provide?
    In my state, other healthcare professionals are represented by the Nurses' Union in certain facilities. Other professionals including Pharmacists (who must have doctoral level degrees), Social Workers, Radiology staff, Dieticians, Lab supervisors, Speech/Language Pathologists, Physical and Occupational Therapists (note that the latter 3 all require a Masters Degree at a minimum). Advanced Practice Nurses such as Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwifes and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are also represented by the union.

    Nurses who are unionized have more power and more leadership in their facilities. I completely fail to see how this would be demeaning to the profession in the least bit. Nurses are not on par with occupations like doctors and lawyers who can set their own rates, practice independently and bill for their time. We are at the mercy of our employers and without unions, have pretty much no say. I worked in a non-union hospital for almost 5 years and I will never, ever work in a non-union hospital again. If I ever go back to hospital nursing (which at this point, I do not intend on doing), it will undoubtedly be at a union hospital.
    Susie2310, multi10, wooh, and 3 others like this.
  4. 5
    OP, your thinking on this issue is not clear. Unionized workers are professionals, in every sense of the word, whose employment rights are protected. That doesn't mean that unionized workers are above reproach for poor performance, either. It means that issues such as breaks, scheduling, and wages are fairly negotiated. I am a unionized RN, accountable for my PROFESSIONAL practise. Unions arent a case of either "or" as you seem to think.
    KelRN215, multi10, wooh, and 2 others like this.
  5. 8
    I don't have the option of belonging to a union at my hospital. I haven't had a raise since 2009. I have no guarantee of health insurance, retirement benefits or paid time off. I can be fired at any time without cause. The doctors at my hospital, however, all have negotiated personal service contracts that are packed with guarantees. They know exactly how they'll be compensated and under what terms. They meet together quarterly to talk about how they're going to negotiate. None of them is sent home without pay when the census is low.

    Unionization, demeaning? Hardly. I'd welcome the opportunity. Protection against being fired without cause is but one aspect of unionization. (And before you tell me that unions protect poor workers from ever being fired, please remember that it is management, not the union, that has the authority to fire; it is the union that has the legal obligation to protect the worker from being fired without cause. A worker who remains on the job despite performance issues is a reflection of management that has failed to document and act.) Unions do far more than offer job protection. If you look forward to a good job in nursing that pays well, you can thank unions for that: They've led the charge in improving wages and working conditions for nurses across the country.

    I appreciate that you want to learn. There are plenty of professionals who have unions, including engineers and doctors. I fail to see how negotiating compensation, benefits and job terms demeans any of them.
    Susie2310, KelRN215, brandy1017, and 5 others like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from kabfighter
    We are the only profession which does not require a bachelor's degree for entry to practice.
    *** Except for all the other fields that don't require a bachelors degree like physician assistants, respiratory therapists, paramedics, etc.
    Kandy83 likes this.
  7. 4
    I wish I could be part of a union.

    Nurses in my area are some of the lowest paid in the country. I know that cost of living has a lot to do with that, but when I see that CNA's in other parts of the country are making almost as much as RN's make here, and that LPN's in some cases are making much more...I can't help but to think a union has something to do with that.

    Not only does management think it's okay to keep entry level pay the same year after year, but apparently they have decided it would be a good idea to LOWER the starting pay. So, if you were a nurse last year and you left and worked somewhere else, you could return to your job to find out that you would be making less than you made when you worked there before. Union members would laugh at that, but if you're not part of a union...

    What can you do about it? Absolutely nothing. "They" know you need a job so you'll either take it or not. If you don't then the next person will. It's crap.
  8. 3
    I initially came to this web site for support from my peers. But Im beginning to see all too often rude comments to questions and replies. If you can't be respectful in your comments, either dig that stick out off your butt or don't comment at all. Ive about had it with Allnurses because instead of getting help from the site, I usually walk away angry or hurt instead.
  9. 4
    However, it seems like one of the complaints that I have heard is that nurses are not treated like professionals (and when I am using this term, I am meaning degreed and licenced), but by being "union" doesn't that kind of imply that we aren't the same status as the professions that don't need unions...like the doctors, engineers, and lawyers?
    *** No need to imply it, we aren't. How many of them punch time clocks like factory workers and nurses do?

    Are other health care professionals unionized? Respiratory Therapists....Registered Dieticians....Physical Therapists?
    *** Yes. In my hospital nurses as well as those you mentioned are all union.

    what services do they provide?
    *** My union can not bargin for wages and benifits. They can and do bargin for working conditions. It is the union that protects us from unsafe staffing levels. They also protect us from being fired without cause and in secret. I was once fired (Magnet hospital of course) for no other reason than the schedual I worked. I was a weekender and got paid time and a half for every hour I worked but I had to work every weekend. We got a new CNO and a new unit managers who decided to get rid of the weekender program and one day they simply fired us. It was all very hush hush. We (6 of us) were escorted out of the hospital like we were criminals. It was devistating financialy. That wouldn't happen in my current union hospital. Here they have to have a reason to fire us, like poor preformance. The irony was that when they got rid of the weekend program the rest of the nurses had to go from every 3rd weekend to every other weekend. Nurses left in droves and they ended up bringing the weekend program back 2 years later. I hope to never work in a Magnet and or non union hospital again.
    KelRN215, anotherone, multi10, and 1 other like this.
  10. 4
    Quote from Sirius Squint
    I initially came to this web site for support from my peers. But Im beginning to see all too often rude comments to questions and replies. If you can't be respectful in your comments, either dig that stick out off your butt or don't comment at all. Ive about had it with Allnurses because instead of getting help from the site, I usually walk away angry or hurt instead.
    I've seen comments in support of unions and against unions. So, I would assume that you don't find the comments supportive because they don't agree with your viewpoint, but both sides have been supported. Just because someone doesn't agree with what you believe doesn't mean they are rude.
    KelRN215, multi10, joanna73, and 1 other like this.


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