from online journal of issues in nursing
article published january 31, 2004
traditional and non-traditional collective bargaining: strategies to improve the patient care environment
acquiring organizational autonomy and control over nursing practice, through a combination of traditional and non-traditional collective bargaining (cb) strategies, is emerging as an important solution to the nursing shortage crisis. for the past 60 years, nurses have improved their economic and general welfare by organizing through traditional cb, particularly during periods of nursing shortages. during the past decade, however, the downsizing of nursing staffs, systems redesign, and oppressive management practices have created such poor nursing practice environments that improvement in wages no longer is viewed as the primary purpose of cb. much more essential to nurses is assuring they have a safe practice environment free of mandatory overtime and other work issues, and a voice in the resource allocation decisions that affect their ability to achieve quality health outcomes for patients.
the thesis presented in this article is that traditional and non-traditional cb strategies empower nurses to find such a voice and gain control over nursing practice. this article describes the current shortage; discusses how cb can be used to help nurses find a voice to effect change; reviews the american nurses association’s (ana's) history of collective action activities; explains differences between traditional and non-traditional cb strategies; and presents a case study in which both strategies were used to improve the present patient care environment.