Professionals or "workers" - page 4

by blackribbon 11,698 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. 9
    Quote from blackribbon
    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 on our student fb page, I don't think it dawned on me that nurses had a union. I have a lot to learn fast, I guess.

    The biggest issue I have is that I don't really want to be a "worker" that needs protection by a union, but would rather be considered a "professional". Other than teachers, are there any other degreed professions that have a union? I may just be ignorant because of my life in Texas, but I haven't been able to find any or references. Most just have professional societies ... which we also have...but these are not unions. It almost seems demeaning that teachers and nurses, both primarily female professions, feel the need to be "protected" like lower skilled workers.

    I have a degree in Bioengineering and never heard of a union for engineers. Lawyers and doctors don't have unions. I couldn't find one for respiratory therapists, physical therapists, or registered dieticians. I know in both my husband's line of work (teamster) and my father-in-laws work (electrician), you no longer could belong to the union when you moved to a professional role (management of any sort).

    Isn't it kind of demeaning to our professional status to unionize?

    (Please be kind, I am asking really asking to learn and not to challenge.)
    Congratulations on Michigan's new "Right to Work" laws. You sound like the sort of person who would be thrilled about such a thing. You should be frightened; you should be very frightened. But you'd rather be considered a "professional" than enjoy the benefits unions have bought us over the years.

    Nurses need to be protected because management, more and more, is trying to take away our professional status in the name of making us "more professional." Rather than letting us continue to enjoy the autonomy we've enjoyed for decades, management is forcing us into color coded scrubs, putting us "on salary" so they don't have to pay us for the nights, weekends and holidays that we work and so that they don't have to pay us overtime. (A union would have nipped that in the bud.)

    Rather than the staffing ratios unions have fought for, we now have to take care of as many patients as management can cram into our space while working short handed. Gone are our floating protections -- we're considered interchangeable cogs. A Cardiac nurse can float to L & D and a nursery nurse can float to rehab. A nurse is a nurse is a nurse you know. Unions fought against mandatory overtime, but nurses don't need no stinkin' unions, so I guess we'll be doing the mandatory overtime again. Oh, and some of that overtime is covering strike shifts for the unlicensed personnel who WILL be striking because they weren't stupid enough to think they didn't need unions.

    Unions gave us the right to actually USE our vacation time, but now management is free not to grant it because "we're short staffed." We're always short staffed. Without union protection, without staffing ratios, we can just run short staffed.

    The language you've used in your post is mighty inflammatory for someone who isn't challenging but just wants to learn.

    Unions have given us a number of protections and benefits over the years. As much as you might want to believe that your nursing degree automatically confers professional status upon you, that really isn't so. And it's becoming less and less true as time goes by because more and more people like you believe that unions are demeaning.

    I guess I'd just rather be demeaned and get paid for the weekends, nights, holidays and overtime I work. I'd rather be demeaned that be floated everywhere in the hospital because nurses are just interchangable cogs. i'd rather be demeaned and be able to use my vacation time, protect my job from the manager who wants to save money by firing the most senior folks and hire newbies instead, and be able to care for my patients safely because the union has forced the issue of staffing ratios. And I'd much rather be demeaned by union representation than wear the silly, cheap, shoddy scrubs my employer is forcing us to wear because they now own 52% of the company that makes said silly, cheap, shoddy scrubs.
    Susie2310, KelRN215, brandy1017, and 6 others like this.
  2. 1
    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.
    Quote from RNdynamic
    I don't agree. Leave your feelings out of this and try to discuss this intellectual matter seriously, please. It is very true that unions in most cases are utilized by laborers, not autonomous professionals -- which is what nursing is supposed to aspire to. By denying this, you help to hold back the profession.
    The person who should have left his or her feelings out in order to have a serious discussion was the original poster who used some mighty inflammatory language, then claimed she wasn't challenging, she just wanted information. I agree with MN-Nurse; RNdynamic is out of line.
    PMFB-RN likes this.
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    Quote from Sirius Squint
    Quite the contrary. I love a healthy debate. Ironically, I was referring to the people who actually ARE incapable of having a different opinion and respond rudely. It only has to go like this "this is my opinion" "I disagree, this is my opinion" I understand my post could have been more clear by quoting the post I was commenting on, but why did you jump to the conclusion that I was referring to instances where people did not agree with me. I DO get angry on here. I come to the site for advice, to read healthy debates, to learn, but my mood recently has taken a hit when my so called "professional " peers harp on some poor soul (not even referring to myself) who dared asked a question, responding with unprofessional, immature rudeness. Im just seeing it more and more lately, so its been getting to me. I used to rave about this site to those who had not been here. Now I find myself feeling bad for new grads who post questions and get snotty answers.
    People jumped to the conclusion that you were referring to instances where people disagreed with you because you didn't quote the posts you referred to.

    And if you're referring to the OP as "some poor soul" who "dared to ask a question", what you're seeing is the response to the inflammatory language that "poor soul" used. The language used was a blatent putdown of unions -- if the OP was just seeking answers to a question or a healthy debate, more neutral language should have been used.
    Susie2310 and multi10 like this.
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    Quote from Sirius Squint
    MN Nurse's response to the original poster was uncalled for. There, that is my specific example. The poor OP was just confused and wanted opinions and advice, not to be told that she needed manners. There wss nothing inappropriate about her post that warranted that response. I myself do flat out call people on their rudeness here, but only when its appropriate
    The OP used some pretty inflammatory language against unions. That is not indicative of someone who is confused or is welcoming of dissenting opinions or advice. That is indicative of someone who lacks manners.
    amoLucia and PMFB-RN like this.
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    Quote from sapphire18
    This is news to me. Everywhere I've worked PAs are midlevel providers just like NPs.
    They are -- but some are still getting educated at the associate's degree level. NP programs started out as certificate programs; that was the case for a long time before the decision was made to mandate graduate level programs, and graduates of those programs did a perfectly good job of providing care. CA still had some certificate NP programs, and might still have a few (I don't know about that for sure), long after the rest of the US had gone to MSN-level preparation (however, graduates of those programs can only practice in CA -- their education is not recognized by other states that require an MSN minimum).
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    I am saddened that my home State of Michigan railroaded this legislature through. Unless this is reversed in a few years somehow, it will surely dissolved Unions. When that happens I will leave this State. Read your history books. Without a seat at the 'table' CEO's, management, stock holders, whomever, will strip Nurses of everything possible. Sad week for the future of Michigan RN's...
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    Quote from TheCommuter
    I'm originally from California (a state with nursing unions) and have been living and working in Texas (an at-will employment state) for the past 7 years.

    In Texas, a nurse's employment can be terminated for any reason that the employer sees fit under at-will employment. I have seen many nurses down here get canned for silly reasons. Raises are not guaranteed in nonunion facilities. One new grad can start at $22 hourly, and another new grad can be started at closer to $30 hourly if (s)he has inside connections. A union would allow everyone to be started at the same pay rate.

    Sorry, but bedside nursing is not yet a profession in my opinion. Rather, it is an emerging profession that still needs protections. Most other professionals do not punch time clocks, wear uniforms, require close supervision, receive hourly wages, or lack the autonomy that characterizes bedside nursing. The bedside nurse has plenty of accountability without the authority. Rant over.....
    While I can understand Commuter's point of view about 'becoming a profession, I want to point out that paying different salaries to similarly qualified individuals who are hired into the same job is a violation of FEDERAL law, and certainly not allowed. That's why starting salaries are controlled by HR rather than by hiring managers, who may be more focused on their own needs rather than those of the organization. Employers in TX are not exempt from 'wrongful termination' lawsuits, so the threat of being fired "for any reason" is not quite accurate either.

    My primary disagreement with organized labor is the insistence on job tenure as the end-all & be-all. Nurses with higher levels of experience are always given preference, with very little attention to the quality or quantity of their work. Conversely, newer nurses are artificially restricted in terms of career growth, no matter how expert or qualified they become. But then, I don't believe in academic tenure either.
    lindarn and amoLucia like this.
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    Physician assistants require a pre-medical undergraduate education and a master's degree to enter practice at this point.
    *** Better tell the associates degree PA programs out there.

    Physician Assistant Program

    City Colleges of Chicago - Physician Assistant Associate in Applied Science

    General Information - Primary Care Associate Program - Stanford University School of Medicine

    Physician Assistant Program | SJVC

    I
    'll give you respiratory therapists, but they don't seem to be shouting from the rooftops that they are professionals like we do in the nursing world.
    *** I don't think they have the self esteem problem that nursing is afflicted with.

    Nurses like to talk the talk, but until we walk the walk and stop only requiring what is essentially a vocational degree, we will not be recognized as professionals like we desire.
    *** Don't count me among that "we".
    lindarn likes this.
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    Quote from HouTx
    Employers in TX are not exempt from 'wrongful termination' lawsuits, so the threat of being fired "for any reason" is not quite accurate either.

    My primary disagreement with organized labor is the insistence on job tenure as the end-all & be-all. Nurses with higher levels of experience are always given preference, with very little attention to the quality or quantity of their work. Conversely, newer nurses are artificially restricted in terms of career growth, no matter how expert or qualified they become. But then, I don't believe in academic tenure either.
    I work in a right-to-work state. Yes, we have wrongful termination laws. But in a right to work state, this is easily gotten around. Nurse assaulted by physician in front of a roomful of witnesses and complains about it? Nurse has a few weeks of grace before they find where she forgot to check a box on a flowsheet, and she is terminated for improper documentation. But, honestly, they didn't have to give her a reason, because either party has a right to terminate the relationship at any time. But they will give a reason, just to show everyone that it is not, obviously, as retribution for raising a stink about some low life putting his hands on her. True story. And I know you are new, and may think, well, she didn't chart something! She should be fired. But with all the myriad forms that are required now, and with all the double charting, it's very easy for even the best nurse to miss a box here or there. And, really, everyone, including the piece of crap MD, knew she was fired for not being a good little minion and just taking it.

    As for the preference given to more experienced nurses, in a right to work state you certainly don't have that. Nope, no poor patients subjected to nurses with 20 and 30 years of experience! All that knowledge and spidey sense that comes with years of experience is expensive! They cost way too much, much better for the hospital to hire some fresh young thing who doesn't know which end of the Foley to insert. But that fresh young thing will take what management dishes, and do it for $10 an hour less. And if the patient goes down the tubes because the young one didn't recognize it, or was too scared to call a doctor at 3am, well, thems the breaks. I know nurses who were terminated within weeks of their retirement date. Because the hospital can do that in a right to work state. Voila! No nurse at topped-out salary, no providing health insurance for an older person, and the old nurse is oh so replaceable since there are 4 nursing schools pumping out new grads as fast as they can within a 60 mile radius.

    I have never been a member of a union, never paid union dues, but I have benefitted from their efforts in nurse-to-patient ratios, and mandatory breaks. I've also done it the other way, and that way is like living on the edge of a cliff. And the older, wiser, and more expensive you become, the more precarious your position is. Easy to disparage preference for seniority when you are new, but one day you'll be the older, experienced, expensive nurse, and that might change your perspective.
    lindarn, Susie2310, brandy1017, and 3 others like this.
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    I should also mention that the US is the only country who still allows RNs to enter practise with a Diploma.
    *** Absolutly not the case. All of those countries you mentioned have plenty of diploma RNs practising.

    E
    verywhere else (Australia, Canada, the UK) a Bachelor's Degree has become mandatory for all new RNs.
    ***It's worth remembering that some of those countries have 3 year BSN programs that differ little from american ADN programs. I am a citizen of New Zealand (dual US/NZ) and hold a NZ RN license and used to hold a Queensland RN license and have worked as an RN in those countries.

    W
    hile many people argue against a BSN, the degree is one measure that allows nursing to be regarded as a profession. As a result, the working conditions for nurses are slightly better in these nations.
    *** Maybe but there are a lot of other things to consider. The differences in the national health care offered in those countries vs the for profit model used here account for some of the difference. My personal experience is that nurses are NOT treated better, though I can only speak from personal experience for Australia and NZ.


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