Unions - page 5

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   Totone656
    The word "Union" in the City of Memphis is like saying Texas makes the best BBQ! Boy the dirty looks you could get. <EG>

    I love when I hear "we are professionals and we don't need a union." Okay how many professinals out there punch a time clock? I for one am called an "associate" at the hospital I work at. So am I a professional or am I an employee?

    Would I like to see a union in the hospitals here? Not yes but heck yes! Will it ever happen....not no but heck no! Unions in the south are something which have never taken hold. Not to mention Tennessee is a "Right to work" state which really means they can fire you for no reason at all. Oh yes, they do whatever is needed to cover themselves with the feds, but other then that. Zero! You have no job protection at all.
  2. by   RNKitty
    Hi, there. I'm replying under my wife's handle -- I'm actually Mr. RNKitty. I'm a masters candidate at Cornell University, in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

    Originally posted by nurs4kids
    Will you guys, PLEEEEEASE, instead of telling me a non-union group has no bargaining rights quote me the law that says an employer ONLY HAS to bargain with a union..a group is ONLY protected by the labor relations act IF they are union??????????
    Just to clear up this point -- the National Labor Relations Act protects concerted activity by any organization that has been duly elected by a group of workers covered by the Act (i.e., executives and some supervisors, temps, and independent contractors are not covered). The election has to have been held among a majority of employees and supervised/certified by the NLRB for coverage under the Labor Act to begin. Once covered, the labor organization can negotiate a contract with the employer that is completely binding.

    Without these steps, any "group" of workers has no recourse under Federal law; an employer can fire anyone at any time, which is called the "employment at will" doctrine. A group calling itself a union (or any other synonym thereof) does not have the ability to file unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, cannot enforce provisions of its agreement with the employer (except under tort law, which is much weaker), and cannot strike, picket, or conduct union activity on the employer's property.

    So, you see, nurs4kids, that although a group may call itself a union, and although they may fit the bill in a philosophical sense, there is the very real difference that the Feds will not back them up if they haven't gone through the process mentioned above. A group like you described may get together, decide that they will speak as one, then march into the executive boardroom to do so... and be fired en masse. That can't happen to a legal labor union.

    Also, they are only required to negotiate with you to a point. Just as the Air Traffic Controllers were ordered back to work, by the president...same can and probably would be done with nurses during a shortage. I don't find that a form of protection.
    The ATC action was a special case, because Reagan felt that they threatened a vital operation of the country. True, it could possibly happen to nurses, especially in time of a national crisis. As to the first point, however, unions have recourse in the case of impasse; unlike individuals who are supposedly bargaining for their own contracts, unions have access to the full gamut of Federal mediation and arbitration services.

    I have noted that some people in this thread do claim to negotiate their own employment conditions as individuals; this is as much because the employer lets them as it is because they are professionals. The downside is that the employer, under that same "employment at will" doctrine, can suspend or terminate any employee for any reason, or even no reason. Beyond the tort of breach of contract and laws such as Title VII, the ADA, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, there is nothing to protect an individual caught in these circumstances.

    I may sound militantly pro-union, but I'm not. There are many instances wherein the employer takes such a proactive and positive view of human resources that no union is necessary; St. Joseph's hospital in Syracuse is a good example, where there is no union but the working conditions are excellent. There is a line, however fuzzy it may be, beyond which a union may be necessary. There is another central New York hospital, which I shall not name, that poses a threat to the licenses of its nurses and the lives of its patients; they are not yet union, but they could certainly benefit from one.

    There are good and bad unions, just as there are good and bad employers. Unions are not a cure-all, but are a tool (backed by the Federal government) to allow workers in a bad situation to effectively do something about it (the Labor Act calls this "ensuring industrial peace"). If you're working for a good employer, than you may not need one, that simple. I've enjoyed reading the posts about self-directed unions where all the executives are nurses; that is as it should be, and not the old fat guy in the fedora bossing nurses around.

    My last thought is this: unions are not just about the gravy train. Safe staffing levels, mandatory floating to areas where a nurse is unqualified, mandatory overtime to unsafe points, etc. -- these are all issues that unions have the power to affect, whereas individuals don't. Unions are about more than just better pay, so I hope people without substantial union experience understand that.

    [Sound of two cents dropping. Door hitting my bum on the way out.]
  3. by   fergus51
    Tracy, I wouldn't advocate just tossing dues at anyone, even though I am pro union. Our union has to account for how it spends its money and I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't know anything really about the ANA or any of your unions or groups, but I think any group or union or professional body that collects dues has an obligation to account for them.
  4. by   -jt
    <Nurs4kids, arguing with JT is pointless.>

    Well, on this subject, its high time you realized it!!



    <<She has told you how the laws support formal unions and even force employers to negotiate with them.
    Then she posts this on another topic.
    "The Registered Nurses at St Catherines of Siena Catholic Health Systems (CHS) on Long Island, NY have been on strike for 20 days because their employer refuses to address their serious concerns about short staffing, mandatory OT, retention and recruitment incentives (salaries and benefits) as well as other working conditions.">>

    Exactly!! Those nurses have that recourse to make the changes they need. And the law OBLIGATES that employer to negotiate with those nurses to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to do exactly that. Non-union nurses have no such power behind them. In addition, the law does not obligate the striking nurses to return to work before they have an agreement that is acceptable to them. A mere "group" of nurses has no such recourse. If they arent a "formal" union of nurses, the laws that "support formal unions and even force employers to negotiate with them" do not apply to them. Sorry Charlie. Nurses who do not become unified are selling themselves short & denying themselves some very important workplace rights, by their own choice.

    PS...

    I know exactly where my dues go. Each member receives Association financial reports and statements twice a yr.

    Tip:
    You will not win an argument on any subject if you dont know anything about the matter.

    To MR RN KITTY:
    Thanks for your post! Too bad youre already married!!!
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 10, '02
  5. by   nurs4kids
    MrRNKitty,
    Thank you so much for an unbiased, educated response. That is exactly what I was seeking.

    Jt,
    You're exactly correct about not winning with lack of knowledge. I never said, nor will I ever say, I have more knowledge about unions or half the other nursing issues than you. My mere 6yrs in nursing can't hold a candle to your experience. I have NO personal experience with nursing unions and very little with the ANA. I just don't have a good feeling about either. Perhaps it's because it's posed here as a cure all, and I KNOW if it were that simple, complete unionization would have been done years ago. There's SOME reason the majority nurses have not followed the unionization trend, and I'd like to know why. Also, admittedly, my employer (the only employer I've had) is very good to nursing, listens and responds, so I'm not as motivated toward unionization as some. They have actually just hired a "retention nurse" and I'm hopeful things will just continue to get better as a result of this position. So, with that said, I'm investigating, listening and educating myself. The jury's still out as for my final vote on unions. My dad thinks unionization is the answer to all employer/employee relations. He's been one of the major influences in my life and still hasn't convinced me that it's the best thing for nursing. One day, I'll decide..until then, I'll probably keep asking questions. Questions you and other hard core union/ANA supporters don't like to answer. Please be patient
  6. by   RNPD
    "When I think of union, I think of less "respectable" careers (ie; mining, auto, steel, atheletics, etc). The closest career to nursing that I can think of that is unionized is teachers, and we all know that hasn't done much for their profession. "~nurse4kids

    This is somewhat of an elitist attitude, is it not? Why would you consider these careers to be "less respectable"? And the teachers' union happens to be an extremely strong union that has done wonders for teachers' salaries and benefits. If you think otherwise, you need to read up on the AFT. If nursing had a similar union, we'd be in great shape today! BTW, even some docs are beginning to unionize, are they "less respectable" as well?
  7. by   RNPD
    If as by your own admission you have NO experience with nursing unions, you need to educate yourself before you form and announce opinions. Opinions based on "feelings" are just that-opinions, and not fact or even close. As far as the reasons why the profession is not completely unionized, there are many reasons-a lesser one being that some employers do treat their staff well enough that the staff has not yet found the need for a union. But as jt points out, that can change in a heartbeat-one bad quarter's profits and nursing is the first department to be cut. Trust me, I worked for such an employer-and had no choice but to quit 5 years later, when profits were down (in this "not-for-profit" facility).

    As the to the major reason why the majority of nurses are not yet unionized-nursing unions are still in their infancy, but as nursing is becoming more aware that they are professionals who are expected to act as such, but shouldn't expect to be treated as such, more & more will join. As healthcare has become more big business, nursing has been seen as a drain on profits-and as nurses become more outspoken & "militant", the admins are seeing the writing on the wall and hoping to push us back where they think we belong. But we have only just begun to fight, and when we are united we will be a force to reckon with!
  8. by   -jt
    Nurse4kids:
    <When I think of union, I think of less "respectable" careers (ie; mining, auto, steel, atheletics, etc). >


    Yes, that perception of yours has been obvious and I think part of why you cannot understand what a NURSES union is about and refuse to believe that it is a very different entity from what youre thinking of. Beware of that "inability to be objective".

    Its curious how youve asked questions regarding unionizing, and when presented with the facts, which differ from your opinion, you resort to trying to insult me on this board simply because I know what I am talking about. Interesting.

    BTW, I, as well as others, have previously answered the question of where our union dues go - several times in the past on this board. They go to service the members, advance the profession, & to fight to improve the situation for nurses at work.

    Once again, If you go to the website of any professional nurses association, understand that EVERY single thing you see available from that association is paid for by the members dues (including the website youre using while there) - even things that may be available to non-members and benefit the non-member, like CE courses, funding community awareness rallies, media events, forums with community leaders and elected officials, and also funding things like the nurse addiction assistance program which NYSNA nurses recently developed for all NY nurses who need help kicking an addiction. Also paid for by members dues is the nursing legislative efforts in your state that will improve your working conditions and will protect you (like the fight to get mandatory ot prohibited & whistleblower protection laws passed in your state, for instance).

    In addition, the members dues fund collective bargaining efforts and activity to obtain the best contracts we can, fund the process to enforce those contracts, support nurses on strike, pay for legal representation for nurses in court and court fees, etc etc etc.
    The members vote on where the money will be spent and they receive a breakdown every year on how much was spent where and how much is left over. This info has been posted more than once yet you accuse people of trying to hide it.
    Again, interesting.

    No one is telling you you MUST participate in any of this. You can sit back and let other nurses do it. Thats your choice.

    But you asked a question. Be prepared if you receive an answer that dispells your perception of what a union of nurses is all about.

    Im so glad you liked Mr RN KITTYs reply to you - he told you exactly the same thing I did.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 17, '01
  9. by   -jt
    <Perhaps it's because it's posed here as a cure all, >


    Again - thats your perception. No such thing has been posted by anyone.

    If you read a little closer, you will see that people are giving you their experiences & for them, their situation improved after they became a union because, as a legally recognized union at their facility, they have more legal power and the employer HAD to address their issues. No one is talking about any particular union being better than another and not one person has said you must unionize and all your problems will be solved.

    You asked certain questions & the answer to those questions is that the union of nurses has it much better because there are laws that give them an equal hand in the process. If they are a union, by law, the employer may no longer ignore their issues and is obligated to address their concerns to their satisfaction.

    That does not mean that all their problems are immediately solved & this has been pointed out, I dont know how many times. All it means is that they now have an avenue in which to follow to solve their problems & they have the law behind them giving certain rights to get those problems solved - whereas non-union nurses have neither, & must either just take what they are dealt or move out.

    The discussion was about the difference between union vs non-union. Thats the difference. Its just a matter of fact. And after that, its a matter of choice. But there is no denying that it is much better to have a guarantee of and some control in determining your conditions of employment than it is to be dependent on the good graces of some administrator, and just hoping he does the right thing by you. After all, he himself didnt leave HIS conditions of employement up to the board of directors and what they will allow, did he? HE has a guaranteed contract that HE helped determine and agreed to, doesnt he?

    Make your own choice. If you want information, ask the questions but there is no need for any bashing or insinuations in an intelligent conversation.

    In case you havent noticed, I have no problem answering questions. But now for a question you have been asked and havent yet answered:

    As a non-union nurse, your recourse when your nurse manager and adminsitrators choose not to address your issues of mistreatment, and otherwise blow you off is.......what?
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 17, '01
  10. by   -jt
    Another difference between union and non-union is this fact reported by the RNweb:

    How Union Membership Affects Pay -

    "Approximately 16% of our survey respondents said they belong to a union, about the same percentage as in previous surveys. And as they did in 1999, union nurses this year reported earning more than their non-union counterparts. The average annual income for union nurses is $50,400, which is 11% more than nonunion RNs. This $5,115 gap is much larger than the roughly $1,600 difference between the two groups reported in our last survey. On an hourly basis, union RNs earn an average of $26, compared to nonunion nurses' $23.40.

    Recent developments suggest that nurses' unions may soon carry more political weight than they have in the past. In June, the United American Nurses (UAN) National Labor Assembly voted to affiliate with the AFL-CIO, the voluntary federation of 64 of America's unions, which represent more than 13 million workers nationwide. The UAN is the national union arm of the American Nurses Association and includes more than 100,000 RNs.

    Locally, unions have made significant gains. For instance, last June 2,600 RNs represented by the United Nurses Association of California (UNAC) negotiated and ratified a new three-year contract with one facility that strengthened their influence over patient care decisions, severely limited the use of mandatory overtime, and provided compounded wage increases of more than 23% over the life of the contract........."

    Medical Economics
    http://www.rnweb.com/be_core/r/templ...salsurv01.html
  11. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by -jt
    [B]Another difference between union and non-union is this fact reported by the RNweb:

    How Union Membership Affects Pay -

    "Approximately 16% of our survey respondents said they belong to a union, about the same percentage as in previous surveys. And as they did in 1999, union nurses this year reported earning more than their non-union counterparts. The average annual income for union nurses is $50,400, which is 11% more than nonunion RNs. This $5,115 gap is much larger than the roughly $1,600 difference between the two groups reported in our last survey. On an hourly basis, union RNs earn an average of $26, compared to nonunion nurses' $23.40.

    ]

    Was geographical area and cost of living taken into account in this survey????? It's easy to look at nothing more than the salary #'s and say it's better, but there are other variables affecting salary.
  12. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by -jt

    BTW, I, as well as others, have previously answered the question of where our union dues go - several times in the past on this board. They go to service the members, advance the profession, & to fight to improve the situation for nurses at work.

    Once again, If you go to the website of any professional nurses association, understand that EVERY single thing you see available from that association is paid for by the members dues (including the website youre using while there) - even things that may be available to non-members and benefit the non-member, like CE courses, funding community awareness rallies, media events, forums with community leaders and elected officials, and also funding things like the nurse addiction assistance program which NYSNA nurses recently developed for all NY nurses who need help kicking an addiction. Also paid for by members dues is the nursing legislative efforts in your state that will improve your working conditions and will protect you (like the fight to get mandatory ot prohibited & whistleblower protection laws passed in your state, for instance).

    [/B]
    ahhhhhhhh, so the TRUTH FINALLY!!!! The unions and the ANA ARE the same then, eh? I mean if UNION dues go to pay for "ana" supported things... ROFLMAO..I KNEW you'd eventually let that slip. THAT is why rnkitty was believed, jt. It's not so much about knowledge as it is the honesty and integrity behind the knowledge.
  13. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by RNPD
    "When I think of union, I think of less "respectable" careers (ie; mining, auto, steel, atheletics, etc). The closest career to nursing that I can think of that is unionized is teachers, and we all know that hasn't done much for their profession. "~nurse4kids

    This is somewhat of an elitist attitude, is it not? Why would you consider these careers to be "less respectable"? And the teachers' union happens to be an extremely strong union that has done wonders for teachers' salaries and benefits. If you think otherwise, you need to read up on the AFT. If nursing had a similar union, we'd be in great shape today! BTW, even some docs are beginning to unionize, are they "less respectable" as well?
    Have you ACTUALLY checked a teacher's salary lately?????

    As for the elitist attitude..everyone keeps screaming about nursing not being treated as professionals. Those careers I addressed above are not considered professional. We can't have it both ways. We can't throw out one image and expect another. Every man in my family works an industrial job that is unionized. By no means do I feel elite to them or their careers. It'd be pretty stupid to even think nursing is elite to those listed above, they all make more than nurses. However, they are not considered professional.

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