What can we expect while negotiating our first Union Contract?

  1. 0
    Hello

    I work at a hospital where we just got the nnoc union passes through finally! I work on a med/surg/tele floor where they have expected us to take on 7 patients some of them of drips, trached, and having active cardiac problems. There have been times where there have been 45 patients and only 4 nurses, doing the math it can only be concluded that this was not a great hospital to work at before the union. We are currently working on our contract.

    Anyone out there with any knowledge about what we can expect in out union process?
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 5
    Make sure your union has great representation. I hated unions in the industrial world, but nursing needs them badly. With unions it seems like a game of chess. For every move the union makes, management has a counter move. Better nurse patient ratios could mean less CNA's, for example. The more the staff supports and participates in the union the better the results. Hospitals hate unions because it puts the staff on a more even level power wise. Look forward to protection from whimsical management decisions.
    RN4MERCY, mdfog10, Chico David RN, and 2 others like this.
  5. 2
    Moved to collective bargaining.
    herring_RN and laborer like this.
  6. 2
    Well I do hope that we do not loose our cna's. Though the non-nurses joined there own union, cna, environmental, and lab etc. so hopefully life will get better for us all. I now that there are to be 4r hospitals that are part of hca that will bargin together. wish us luck
    mdfog10 and herring_RN like this.
  7. 3
    I just really want to second the idea that maximum participation is the key. You have nurses from your own hospital there on the bagaining team and they will be making efforts to keep in touch with you and keep you posted on what's happening - take the time to read what they send out and ask questions about things you don't understand.
    The strangth of the bargaining team to make improvements at the table comes solely from the involvement and support of nurses in the facility. And that means, not quiet support, but active and visible and vocal support.
    There will almost certainly be times when the team will ask for a show of support form nurses around some issue. When I've been on bargaining teams, we have reached times when we really needed to move management on an issue and we've asked nurses to show support in various ways - by wearing a button, or showing up for a rally, or emailing to the CEO to show support for the team. When we've gotten really good response from the nurses, it nearly always resulted in management moving their position for the better.
    That stuff truly counts - so stay informed, stay involved and turn out when you are asked to and that will get you the best contract. While you are at it, reach out to the nurses that voted no and talk to them about the reality - even if they didn't want to be unionized, it's a reality now and showing support will get them the best contract - more money, better working conditions, better patient safety protections. It's in their own interest to join in now.
    RN4MERCY, mdfog10, and herring_RN like this.
  8. 4
    At my hospital we have had a union contract well before I started , so I can't speak about negotiating a first contract. I am a Nurse rep for my unit. I help to explain current negotiations, contract language and how to deal with management. One of my nurses told me that he knows a nurse on another unit in our hospital---but it is like we work in two different hospitals. Because, we are represented (and understand more) the other unit's management gets away with contract violations, etc. As a unit rep not only can you educate your fellow nurses, you can literally stop management in their tracks. My former manager tried to violate our floating policy (wanted to float career before travelers) and I told her I had a problem with her violating our contract. She knew I would pursue it, so she backed off and floated the traveler. That is just one example. The key to making changes is being educated, informed and unified. Be patient and know that our role , our fight in protecting our patients is a constant and righteous one.
    herring_RN, RN4MERCY, laborer, and 1 other like this.
  9. 4
    Agree with above sentiments, especially about participation. Also be prepared for a lengthy negotiation. It takes time to negotiate, our first contract took 18 months and that was with a fairly cooperative administration. The admin will possibly try to draw negotiations out as a union wakening and busting tactic. I have seen some admins do this for years. SOLIDARITY aand patience among the nurses is paramount.
    RN4MERCY, laborer, mdfog10, and 1 other like this.
  10. 0
    Wow, that long to get a contract. I did not think that it would take that long.
  11. 2
    Our contract took about 6 months to negotiate . Administrations try to delay as long as they can because nurses start to wonder what is the union doing for me , rather than why is the managment being so intransigent . Remember ( at least with our union ) you don't pay dues till your contract goes into force , so why you may feel you are not getting much , at least its free .Also your employment conditions can't be changed during the negotiations .
    RN4MERCY and herring_RN like this.
  12. 3
    You've probably seen pretty much the range in those last two responses - 6 months for a first contract is really short, 18 is really long, but neither are unheard of. I think you are at an HCA hospital, and it does help when the employer and the union have previous history together. An employer that has agreed to decent contract language at other hospitals they own has a hard time making the case that they can't agree to it here. Only a minority of HCA hospitals are represented, but at least enough are that they aren't totally new to the idea. So some of what your fellow nurses at other places have won can save you some work and effort.
    nicurn001, RN4MERCY, and herring_RN like this.


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