To unionize or not...

  1. 1
    I started this thread simply because it was a very hot topic on another thread where someone wanted some advice... I hope to generate some friendly discussions regarding experiences and opinions. I don't want to get blasted for starting this, no personal attacks please.

    In the news for the last two weeks, we have seen evidence of unions in WI, IN, and OH fighting against enacting "right to work" laws, and limitations on collective bargaining. I believe that some unions have run amock, and even considered going to demonstrate against the unions.

    This being said, the original intent of the unions was to protect workers, and I have never seen a group of employees more systematically suppressed than nurses. Mandatory overtime, being "called-off" without pay, being on-call without compensation, having systemic unsafe workplace practices, constantly worrying about workplace violence, fear of reprisal for whistle-blowing, and dealing with unsafe staffing levels seems enough to make all of us want to throw in the towel. It honestly makes me wonder why there isn't a national nursing union.

    So, what are your thoughts? I know that some have fought this battle, and won. Some have fought a good battle, but lost. Have you been pleased with your decision to unionize?

    Is there any good that can come out of it? Will it advance the profession of nursing? Will it stretch our already broken health care system over the edge?



    I'm gonna run now.... I hate worms and fear that I may have opened a huge can of them.
    lindarn likes this.
  2. 31 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    My big question has always been: Do you walk out on your patients or everyone call in to work on the same day? The few studies I have read say that unionized nursing has better pay, benefits and time off. It also states that they have lower overall morale and many do not like their work. Personally I do not believe in having a nursing union.
    smily nurse likes this.
  4. 7
    The way hospitals and other institutions treat nurses they should jump at the chance to unionize. I have worked in unionized institutions and the nurses there were treated more fairly because management was forced to. End of story.
    herring_RN, wooh, Chico David RN, and 4 others like this.
  5. 1
    I have been in a union because I work in a place that is unionized. NO UNIONS...... run the other way. I was better off w/o.
    lindarn likes this.
  6. 7
    I think unions could be good for nurses. BUT, unions are only as good as the people who belong to them allow them to be. If you are not going to be active in the union process, the union isn't going to do much good. I do think there should be a national nursing union though because too many facilities take advantage of their nurses (short staffing, heavy nrs/pt ratios, way too long hours, etc). In my state, the business side of nursing rules instead of patient care being the priority. Its sad. I think unions could help.
  7. 3
    I think that the problems with unions is that ultimately, they become the problem and not the solution. I am not for abusing employees, but I don't believe that employees have the right to demand so much that they either bankrupt the company or they bankrupt the government.

    In NY, if you weren't a member of a union, you couldn't get certain jobs and you couldn't become a union member without the job. In my ex-H's kitchen, they were getting SLAMMED during a dinner rush....he looked at the union employee manning the salad area of the kitchen (he was standing still not doing anything)...Chef tells worker to get to the hot line and help. He was summarily informed that he was scheduled for the cold line that day. End of story. Could you imagine an RN saying she would not wipe the backside of a patient because that was a PCT's role?

    I don't believe that just because you work in a union shop that you should be "forced" to either join the union or pay union dues. It is all about money and power down the line. Just like many "movements", the initial goal is to help the employee (or "worker") and ultimately ends up with the union reps in bed with the politicians.
  8. 10
    I have stated before...and I will state again.

    The reason unions are not widespread in nursing, where our benefits are being chipped away every year, is because it is a female dominated profession.

    A look at this message board, will give you a snapshot of the problems in the profession...so many don't like the problems either, yet think unions are not the answer to fix it?

    Then what is?

    Because ladies and gentlemen, it ain't gonna fix itself.
    eagle78, taalyn_1, Not_A_Hat_Person, and 7 others like this.
  9. 2
    Quote from FLmomof5
    I think that the problems with unions is that ultimately, they become the problem and not the solution. I am not for abusing employees, but I don't believe that employees have the right to demand so much that they either bankrupt the company or they bankrupt the government..
    The unions are who votes in their high offices...and people forget that.

    The auto-workers union is a good example of where they ruined their own profession...they got so many benefits that it priced cars to where nobody would buy them.
    marthyellen and smily nurse like this.
  10. 5
    Agreed unions can get big headed and greedy if not kept in check by their own members. The auto industry is a good example of that, but they are not the only downfall of U.S. auto makers. There was plenty being siphoned off the top as well. To be fair as well even non union manufacturing can't compete with chinas cheap labor and manipulation of its currency.


    There are lazy workers in both union and non union roles. I worked union and non union in a past job (construction). The union guys worked just as hard, they just werenít in a position to be exploited. I think healthcare needs a union otherwise hospitals will treat and pay their workers at the minimum required to keep it staffed, which leaves more money for the top.
    eagle78, taalyn_1, herring_RN, and 2 others like this.
  11. 3
    Quote from manusko
    My big question has always been: Do you walk out on your patients or everyone call in to work on the same day? The few studies I have read say that unionized nursing has better pay, benefits and time off. It also states that they have lower overall morale and many do not like their work. Personally I do not believe in having a nursing union.
    Well, if you don' believe in having nursing unions, what do you suggest that nurses do to protect themselves, and ultimately, their patients? Say,"pretty please may I use the Bathroom, because I have to pee"? Beg for more help because you have been assigned 10 patients to care for, and you cannot be in 10 places at once?

    Do you think that management is going to improve staffing, pay and benefits, out of the goodness and kindness of their hearts?

    If Nurses have to go on strike to get what they need to improve staffing, working condition, better pay and benefits for nurses, so be it. The PTB caused the disatisfaction in nurses by their management actions, and THEY are responsible for staffing the hospital. They have had plenty of time to work out the problems, and their arrogance is what causes nurses to make the decision to go on strike.

    As you fight nurses having a union, which means that nurses have a contract that management has to abide by, do you realize that ALL MANAGERS, AND CEOs, ADMINISTRATION, have contracts, that ensure their pay, benefits, working conditions, etc, to protect them? Why shouldn't nurses have the same protection? It will never happen until we demand it, and join unions. Then National Nurses United, is a good start.


    JMHO and my NY $0.02.
    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Somewhere in the PACNW
    taalyn_1, wooh, and CCL RN like this.


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