Unions - page 3

I was just wondering peoples views on Unions, from reading other posts I got the inpression that unions are not a standard thing. One of my lectures this semester was two of the big nursing unions... Read More

  1. by   donmurray
    BB, you would rather fight your own battles, and doubt others' motives in fighting with/for you , but how much better will your odds on winning the battle be if you are part of an organised group of nurses, with similar aims to your own? One UK union (a rival to my own) ran a campaign on TV, whre a bear is sitting in an ant's path. The ant says"Excuse me!" and the bear swats it. Next thing, the bear is surrounded by ants, deafened by their all shouting "EXCUSE ME!!" Guess what? He moves over!
  2. by   nurs4kids
    the ants don't have to belong to a union, though
    bb,
    wonderfully said.

    don,
    those ants could congregate WITHOUT having a union represent them; without their money padding someone else's pocket.

    I believe the ants here are in with the elephants. If I represent myself, I KNOW WHO I'M REPRESENTING! moi
  3. by   scobiesue
    The hospital I work in voted in a union(UAW Local 12) over 1 year ago. The progress has been slow. The hospital has really fought us tooth and nail. Our wages and benefits have greatly increased. But we still have alot of the same old problems: Staffing and patient ratios. But at least we now have some say even if its not what we want to hear. We now have a process that lets our concerns be heard. As I have learned over the past year a union is what I and my peers make of it. My work would like us to believe the union is a waste of time that we could work our difference out. This is all mgmt propaganda we will never be equals. If we were able to work out our differences and not belittled into working long shifts in poor working conditions the union wouldn't have been an issue. So in closing I am proud to be a union member. Solidarity Forever.
  4. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by scobiesue
    But at least we now have some say even if its not what we want to hear.
    lol..and that's different from non-union how???
  5. by   -jt
    <the ants don't have to belong to a union, though......
    those ants could congregate WITHOUT having a union represent them>

    Dont you get it? Once they congregated together, they became the union. The representative just teaches them about the law and their rights under it - which they, being ants, may not know everything about.


    <<their money padding someone else's pocket.>>

    Who's pocket? The imaginary fat guy in the fedora? The money nurses pay in my union goes for their own services.

    Direct-care Nurses in NY State just voted to increase their own dues because they want to develop and make available certain new services for themselves.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 14, '01
  6. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by -jt
    <the ants don't have to belong to a union, though......
    those ants could congregate WITHOUT having a union represent them>

    Dont you get it? Once they congregated together, they became the union. The representative just teaches them about the law and their rights under it - which they, being ants, may not know everything about.


    <<their money padding someone else's pocket.>>

    Who's pocket? The imaginary fat guy in the fedora? The money nurses pay in my union goes for their own services.

    Direct-care Nurses in NY State just voted to increase their own dues because they want to develop and make available certain new services for themselves.
    Jt,
    What I don't get is the following: Why do we need to be called a "union" to unite? Nurses are educated, not incapable of law intrepretation. I'm impressed that YOUR union representative volunteers his/her time and law knowledge for the betterment of your members. I'm not niave enough to think we'd be so lucky as to find someone willing to DONATE their time. I'm sitting at work, right now, 3 patients on a post surgical unit. My pay is average for my area. I'm not bragging, nor am I blind to the likelyhood of a future like many have with higher nurse/patient ratio's. BUT many of those with worse conditions are ALREADY represented by a union. Right now, IF I feel mistreated, I can go to management and speak for MYSELF, I don't have to go through a bunch of union red tape. If I want to work Christmas for my buddy, I can without having to okay it with a union or without having to run the seniority chain first. Representing myself doesn't cost me a dime. I just can't see what a union can do for me that I can't do for myself.

    You said yourself that a union is only as strong as its members, so if we aren't strong enough to stand for ourselves, then joining a union is not going to solve any problems either.

    If unions are so great, then why aren't you guys years ahead of the non-union areas?? Some of the biggest complaints I hear on this bb are from nurses belonging to a union. From the way you talk, I'd expect your pay to be far superior to a non-union nurses; I'd expect your working conditions to be awesome. That ain't what I'm hearin'!

    I grew up a coal miner's daughter, so I'm not ignorant of unions. I agree, that in some industries, union representation is necessary. I, however, can NOT see where a union is beneficial to nursing now, in the past or in the future. WE are in demand, we don't need a union representative to tell us OR management that!
    Last edit by nurs4kids on Dec 14, '01
  7. by   -jt
    <<Right now, IF I feel mistreated, I can go to management and speak for MYSELF,>>


    and your recourse when they choose not to address your issue and otherwise blow you off is.......what?


    <If I want to work Christmas for my buddy, I can without having to okay it with a union or without having to run the seniority chain first.>


    So can I. We dont have to run to "the union" for "permission" on things like that either. Where do you get these ideas about how it works? See, this is what I mean about misconceptions. I still think some nurses mistaken perceptions about how a union of nurses works is based on their own ideas that they got from other peoples past unions and not from the facts. Good unions of NURSES do not operate like your coalminer's union did years ago. There is no comparison.

    Our contracts guarantee that "holdiays off will be distributed on an Equitable Basis". If it was by seniority, then the same nurses every year would have all the holidays off and others would never get any holidays off.

    The "Equitable Basis" language also prevents employers from favoring her pet nurse by giving her the holidays off all the time and treating a less-favored nurse disparately by not giving her holidays off or using this to punish a nurse. If the employer tried to do any of that he would be violating our contract & is legally wrong. The mistreated nurse then does speak for herself and points this out.

    Sometimes, it can be resolved right then and that's the end of it but when the manager gives her a hard time, the mistreated nurse turns to her staff RN reps to resolve the issue WITH her & the manager (her "reps" are other staff nurses in the hospital who have been elected by the rest of the nurses and then trained by the association to handle these kinds of things). When the employer blows us reps off too and REFUSES to address the concern, THATS when we call our union office to begin the proceedings that halt the employer from violating our legally-binding agreement and to uphold the nurses right. And the nurse gets her holiday off. Even if the employer has to get agency to fill in her place.

    Besides trying to find someone to switch the day off with them, what can your nurses do when the manager schedules holidays off unfairly and administration refuses to respond to your discussion about how the nurses are being mistreated?
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 14, '01
  8. by   -jt
    <I just can't see what a union can do for me that I can't do for myself. >


    Because you keep seeing "THE UNION" - as an outsider coming in to take care of things for nurses. When really its just the NURSES at that facility taking care of themselves - doing exactly what you are already doing yourself - but doing it together as one legally-recognized collective unit - rather than doing it alone one at a time with a much less powerful voice.

    You CAN all get together and make a committment to each other to be that group of ants without officially calling yourself "a union" or affiliating with any nurses association to help you do it, but then you would just be a group of nurses and the employer does not have to do anything to address your issues if he doesnt feel like it. And as just a group, you can't force him to. As just a group, you would not have any of the legal rights and protections that you would have as an official union of nurses and nothing the employer agreed to to get your group out of his office would be binding or guaranteed. He could just change his mind at anytime and as just a group, you dont have a legal leg to stand on and he has all the control.

    Doing all that you would be doing as a group but doing it as a union of nurses, instead of just a group of nurses, turns the tables in your favor and puts the power of the law behind you.

    Thats the difference.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 14, '01
  9. by   -jt
    <If unions are so great, then why aren't you guys years ahead of the non-union areas??>


    We ARE!!

    Take a look at some of the guarantees in our contracts:

    Salaries (are higher than non-union nurses)
    Differentials for each year of experience as an RN
    Differentials for BSN/BS/BA, MS/MA/MSN, PH.D
    Differentials for specialty certifications - including med-surg
    Charge Nurse differentials inculding charge pay for any nurse taking over charge duties on the Charge Nurses days off
    Shift differentials
    Daily time & a half for hours worked over the RNs regularly assigned shift - OT pay not dependent on total # of weekly hours worked
    No shift rotation
    No lay-offs - even if the service/dept RN is working in is eliminated
    No conversion of RN positions to other types of personnel - even if vacant
    Safe, Enforceable Staffing ratios - unit by unit & floor by floor
    Mandatory OT prohibited
    Non-nursing tasks (like transporting pts and running to pharmacy) prohibited & ancillary personnel provided for that
    Free Health Benefits for ourselves and our families
    Free full time benefits for part-timers and their families
    Decent Pension plans/Annuities
    Workplace Safety Requirements
    Employee Assistance Program
    Paid 5 weeks vacation, 12 holidays, 12 sick days/yr - up to 3 may be used when dependent/child is sick
    Full pay for jury duty
    Paid days off to attend CE seminars
    CE Seminar fees paid by employer
    100% tutition reimbursement for college & courses in BS/BSN/BA, MS/MSN/MA or Ph.D programs
    and more....
    (nurses unionized with the Minnesota Nurses Assoc. even have lifting limits guaranteed)

    Everything in the contract is guaranteed and legally binding and cant be changed, reversed or eliminated by the employer.

    What you have, you have only while your employer decides to allow you to have it. The minute he changes his mind or it costs too much.......poof!.... its gone. That happens to nurses who are a 'group'

    That cant happen to nurses who are a union.

    PS
    It makes a difference which union nurses have backing them up as they speak for themselves so its important to shop around and find the one that best helps the nurse members be the strongest they can be.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 14, '01
  10. by   donmurray
    Nurse4kids, maybe it's me that's niaeve, but,as a union rep, and a nurse, I DO donate my time. As a rep, I am entitled to time off for training, discussions with management, and representing the members. I am not there to defend the member, I am there to ensure that they are dealt with fairly, and within employment law, as well as within the employer's policies and procedures. One of my biggest problems is ignorance. The member does not always know their rights, and, disturbingly often, neither does the manager! My role is not always confrontational, though it can be, but more like a lubricant, making sure the industrial relations machinery runs smoothly. Unions have progressed too, working in partnership with enlightened employers.
  11. by   ReluctantMonk
    If you want representation, a living wage, the right to barter, better benefits, and job security then a union is the way to go. At the facility where I work any nurse can be fired or terminated at the drop of a hat; no reason is needed. Can you imagine where autoworkers, policemen, government employees, truckers, etc. would be today if they had no unions? SOL....My father is retired from the auto industry with a great pension and complete health benefits including a drug card. How many retired nurses can say that?
  12. by   CashewLPN
    I am a member of a union... its a medical personell union--- 1199

    i am looking to become a delegate.... we need one as our old one tragically passed away earlier this year....

    So--- I like my union.... its a good deal...

    --Barbara
  13. by   nurs4kids
    Jt,
    As a union, you have no more power over your employer than a "group" would have. The power is in numbers, not in being called a union. A hospital is just as likely to negotiate with a "group" as they are a union. They can just as easily leave you on the picket line as they could a "group". You twisted my christmas example so you could defend unions. I never said holidays are based on seniority. I said, <hypothetically speaking for some unions>IF I'm off and I choose to work and allow my friend to be off, I can not do that freely. In Wisconsin, where an old coworker works, they are unionized and this is the case. Last year, she wanted to work for someone with kids, but wasn't allowed to do so unless she FIRST offered to work for those with more seniority. In my area, the THREAT of a union works just as effectively as unionizing ever could. We have most of the same benefits you list above, short of free benefits (but our benefits are still very reasonable). How many of those benefits you list above are offered to nurses only, and not the entire hospital staff?? We have the same benefits, and more, but they are offered to the entire staff.

    Protected by law is a person or groups right to represent themselves. So your statement about nurses as a "group" not having bargaining power is completely false. A "group" or an individual, even, has the same power as your union. If a hospital signs a contract with a "group", that contract is just as legally binding as one signed with a union. If I'm wrong, please direct me to the law that stated an employer is not legally bound to a contract UNLESS that contract is with a union.

    The thread here that addresses salaries, does not reflect what you're saying about unionized nurses making more than non-unionized nurses. The salary differences are spread more toward years of service, cost of living and region.

    I am not anti-union, as it may sound. I still feel nurses need to step up and speak for themselves. However, I think people need to be given their options w/o the twisting of words and law. Nurses have been stepped on by administration long enough, we don't need to allow our own people to lead us blindly down the "road to freedom". The same things can be accomplished through solidarity that can be accomplished through unionization..and it can be done without the large union fees. Don states above that he volunteers his time as a rep. So, I still don't understand where the large amount of money collected as "union dues" goes. You said someone just voted to increase their dues so they could gain more benefits. Could you be more specific as to what they are gaining??

    It just seems to me that the nurses that are ANA & unionized feel their way is the ONLY way. I feel if that way was so great, the rest of us would have been beating down your doors. You wouldn't NEED the staffing ratio's in your contract, EVERYONE would be dying to work where your union is represented; EVERYONE would be rushing to send in their ANA dues.

    Give me some solid evidence that unions are the answer. Please don't twist and manipulate words. Don't tell me the pay's better, give me the pay rate. Tell me what law says a hospital doesn't have to recognize a contract with a non-union group.
    Thanks.

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