Why are so many nurses against unions?

  1. I really don't understand. I am a newish nurse that landed my "dream job" in the icu. My hospital is the biggest and best in the area and we are currently on a journey to magnet. I feel like I was lied to about how this would help nurses and we would be supported and taken care of.

    In my icu we have a very high acuity. We are constantly short staffed and tripled. 1:1 for ccrt pts is advertised but never actually happens!

    I have seen a patient self extubate during the holy interdisciplinary rounds due to that nurse being tripled and spread out across the unit. None of the bosses said any thing and just went on to round on the next patient.

    The majority of our assistants will not help unless asked and it's like pulling teeth just to get them to help with a blood sugar check. Often they are sitting on their cellphones or just catching up on gossip. But since they have worked there a long time it is widely accepted by the staff.

    We have are losing staff nurses left and right.

    I have been talked down to by our surgeons and blatantly disrespected on more than one occasion for trying to help a patient but not enough to be considered abusive so that I could report it. Once, I calmly asked a doc to update the close family members of a dying patient at their request. Since a distant family had been updated, the doctor was visibly offended and proceeded to call my charge nurse and say "I got in her face" which was completely false. Luckily the charge was within ear shot and heard everything. This was swept under the rug.

    During my new nurse orientation the nursing instructor preached against unions especially since we were going magnet and would have so many benefits.

    I feel like a strong nurse union could solve many of our problems and help our patient care. But the majority of nurses I have talked to are completely against it. I can't understand this for the life of me.

    Sadly, my dream job has turned to hell. I love my sick patients and family but sick of being overworked, tripled, never even getting a lunch break, all while being talked down to and humiliated by the Dr.s that see me as a stupid new nurse.
    Last edit by Icunicenurse on Jan 21, '16
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  2. 81 Comments

  3. by   mpct
    Many people dont understand unions or have been fed garbage about them.

    Organized nursing labor is very important or nurses will get shafted.
  4. by   Icunicenurse
    Quote from mpct
    Many people dont understand unions or have been fed garbage about them.

    Organized nursing labor is very important or nurses will get shafted.
    Any good resources to find solutions to this?
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jan 21, '16 : Reason: fixed quote
  5. by   mpct
    I am very new to this and that's exactly what I am looking for as well. Things have been going downhill the last 3 years where I work.

    What I am looking to find now is someone who experienced the transition going from no union to getting one - I want to ask them about the change, if it was beneficial to them, how they went about it, challenges faced etc.

    I am looking for such nurses now. I think all-nurses is a great resource for this. Maybe this thread can be a resource for organized union nursing.

    I know recently the nurses in a hospital in my area threatened to strike and this was the info I found on it, it seems they got a good deal of what they were asking for:

    Oct 19th 2014:
    UIC Hospital nurses preparing for Tuesday strike | abc7chicago.com

    Oct 21st 2014:
    U. of I hospital nurses to get 2.25 percent to 3.6 percent increases - Chicago Tribune

    I also know a lot of the 1% wealthy people throw money at trying to get rid of unions so definitely it is something to look into, why are they fighting so hard against organized labor?

    I continue to learn more and more everyday about this and the next step will be to contact a union rep and discuss my findings and see where to go from there.

    If I find out more I will post here.
  6. by   Icunicenurse
    I will follow. I can see nothing but benefits for nurses who are part of unions. I know there have to be other nurses at my hospital interested in unionizing but union is a dirty word in my area and I am sure people are afraid of facing backlash. Since we have no protection I wouldn't be surprised to see nurses fired for any reason possible if we even talked about it. Depressing.
  7. by   herring_RN
    Quote from mpct
    I am very new to this and that's exactly what I am looking for as well. Things have been going downhill the last 3 years where I work.

    What I am looking to find now is someone who experienced the transition going from no union to getting one - I want to ask them about the change, if it was beneficial to them, how they went about it, challenges faced etc.

    I am looking for such nurses now. I think all-nurses is a great resource for this. Maybe this thread can be a resource for organized union nursing.

    I know recently the nurses in a hospital in my area threatened to strike and this was the info I found on it, it seems they got a good deal of what they were asking for:

    Oct 19th 2014:
    UIC Hospital nurses preparing for Tuesday strike | abc7chicago.com

    Oct 21st 2014:
    U. of I hospital nurses to get 2.25 percent to 3.6 percent increases - Chicago Tribune

    I also know a lot of the 1% wealthy people throw money at trying to get rid of unions so definitely it is something to look into, why are they fighting so hard against organized labor?

    I continue to learn more and more everyday about this and the next step will be to contact a union rep and discuss my findings and see where to go from there.

    If I find out more I will post here.
    Maybe you can meet some nurses near you who have unionized. ere is information regarding Illinois. Scroll down for contact information.
    Illinois | National Nurses United

  8. by   herring_RN
    Quote from Icunicenurse
    I really don't understand. I am a newish nurse that landed my "dream job" in the icu. My hospital is the biggest and best in the area and we are currently on a journey to magnet. I feel like I was lied to about how this would help nurses and we would be supported and taken care of.

    In my icu we have a very high acuity. We are constantly short staffed and tripled. 1:1 for ccrt pts is advertised but never actually happens!

    I have seen a patient self extubate during the holy interdisciplinary rounds due to that nurse being tripled and spread out across the unit. None of the bosses said any thing and just went on to round on the next patient.

    The majority of our assistants will not help unless asked and it's like pulling teeth just to get them to help with a blood sugar check. Often they are sitting on their cellphones or just catching up on gossip. But since they have worked there a long time it is widely accepted by the staff.

    We have are losing staff nurses left and right.

    I have been talked down to by our surgeons and blatantly disrespected on more than one occasion for trying to help a patient but not enough to be considered abusive so that I could report it. Once, I calmly asked a doc to update the close family members of a dying patient at their request. Since a distant family had been updated, the doctor was visibly offended and proceeded to call my charge nurse and say "I got in her face" which was completely false. Luckily the charge was within ear shot and heard everything. This was swept under the rug.

    During my new nurse orientation the nursing instructor preached against unions especially since we were going magnet and would have so many benefits.

    I feel like a strong nurse union could solve many of our problems and help our patient care. But the majority of nurses I have talked to are completely against it. I can't understand this for the life of me.

    Sadly, my dream job has turned to hell. I love my sick patients and family but sick of being overworked, tripled, never even getting a lunch break, all while being talked down to and humiliated by the Dr.s that see me as a stupid new nurse.
    On page 14 of this magazine is an article about a newish ICU nurse who was fired after a losing union election at her hospital. She is workin ICU at a different hospital now.
    National Nurses United - National Nurse magazine October 2015
    You can contact someone from the Southern regional Headquarters without your management knowing about it.
    We organized for more than a year and filed for an election before out management knew. But that was more than 20 years ago.

    Scroll down the the Southern Regional contact information:
    Florida | National Nurses United

    Lots of information here:
    http://nurses.3cdn.net/1d1e00cd8cc7b03592_jy8m6v5hd.pdf

  9. by   llg
    I have always been "on the fence about nurses and unionization." My personal preference is to work for an employer that treats its staff well enough so that a union is not needed. I have seen both the pros and the cons up close and appreciate them both. I would prefer a non-union employment setting -- but would vote for one if treated badly enough.

    I have only worked in one hospital that had a collective bargaining agreement. The short version of my experience there is:
    Pros: We had the best pay and benefit package I have ever seen
    Con: There was the worst relationship between management and staff that I have seen

    There had been a strike just a couple of years before I moved there. It had poisoned the relationship between management and staff. As a staff educator, I attended meetings of "both sides" of the great divide between management and staff. Both sides bad-mouthed the other and sometimes told lies and half-truths about the other to make them look bad. Dirty tricks were played and people were always trying to "get around" the wording in the contract to give their side some advantage. Both sides engaged in this behavior -- it was not a matter of one side being "good" and the other side being "bad." Both sides were equally guilty of bad behavior.

    On the other hand, I was very well-paid and they had the best retirement program I have ever seen.

    Also, to address you question directly ... Historically, professional people have tended to not be unionized. Unionization has historically been geared to the lower levels of the work force -- blue collar folks, not white collar folks. That has changed in recent years, but there is a traditional stigma attached to being unionized that suggests that the group is "not professional." Unions have also been associated with violence and corruption in the past -- and socialism -- and forcing contracts onto people who would prefer to speak for themselves and negotiate their own conditions of employment. So a lot of people have been raised to associate unionism with these negative elements.
    Last edit by llg on Jan 21, '16
  10. by   TriciaJ
    Many nurses believe they are lowering themselves by belonging to a union - "it's not professional". They don't seem to realize that their "professionalism" is certainly not being recognized when they are treated with profound disrespect by patients, families, doctors, and their own management. Many nurses are so conditioned to be "pleasers" that they wouldn't dream of doing anything that would upset anyone.

    I once saw some anti-union propaganda where an employee was stating "I don't need a union; I can speak for myself." The big question is: who is listening? Can this employee actually negotiate for wages and benefits and achieve any satisfaction? Doubtful.

    Magnet status is a completely naked emperor. That's just money changing hands and papers being shuffled. It won't make one bit of difference in quality of patient care or staff satisfaction. OP, it sounds like your hospital is a pit that plans to use Magnet status like a paint job.

    Other posters have already given you some resources to get started. Good luck.
  11. by   XNavyCorpsman
    When you have a Union you loose flexibility. I'll give you an example; Most of us Nurses want to adjust our work schedule so that we get more days off in a row. We can't because that would require the LPN's, which are Unionized, to adjust their contract. If you know anything about Unions, once you join a Union, you now work for the Union and NOT the hospital. The biggest thing is you loose flexibility.
  12. by   LadyFree28
    Quote from XNavyCorpsman
    When you have a Union you loose flexibility. I'll give you an example; Most of us Nurses want to adjust our work schedule so that we get more days off in a row. We can't because that would require the LPN's, which are Unionized, to adjust their contract. If you know anything about Unions, once you join a Union, you now work for the Union and NOT the hospital. The biggest thing is you loose flexibility.
    That is false.

    You still work for the organization; you have your peers represent you through the union.

    If anything, a union GIVES a voice-advocacy-a tenet of our practice-to protect ourselves against unsafe staffing, unreasonable scheduling, etc.


    Granted, if RNs were unionized I'm sure you would have more of a voice against such challenges; that doesn't mean you can not organized and make sure that your voices can be heard-that would be up to you and your fellow peers.
  13. by   LadyFree28
    At least in my area, the tide is turning...there are so many atrocious events that are being allowed to happen that nurses aren't willing to take it anymore-letting people go with DECADES of experience, taking away resources that are not allowing new nurses to become competent to their potential, taking away resourceful members that want flexibility, improper working equipment, cutting essential people, not properly planning logistics to provide adequate patient flow...not allowing doctors to do their job or even the nurses...the list is endless!

    I am in a position to advocate for my patients-why wouldn't I want to do that for myself and my peers?

    A union can ensure that, instead of basically talking to a brick wall and no changes to help my parents.

    In a few weeks I will be making this decision-and I'm voting YES.

    I am a part of an union family, and have worked in places where unions benefitted ALL employees, even when I was consider "management"; I have no issues with professionals having unions when TPTB continue to run roughshod over our worker's rights.
  14. by   A&Ox6
    Quote from XNavyCorpsman
    When you have a Union you loose flexibility. I'll give you an example; Most of us Nurses want to adjust our work schedule so that we get more days off in a row. We can't because that would require the LPN's, which are Unionized, to adjust their contract. If you know anything about Unions, once you join a Union, you now work for the Union and NOT the hospital. The biggest thing is you loose flexibility.
    I am not against unions per se, but I know that at my institution the union does get in the way at times. First of all, because the union is not nursing specific, concerns regarding staffing and ratios are not a priority. Instead of ensuring that I never have to be the only RN on a psych floor (which is very scary considering it's psych and I'm still really green) they talk about the skill mix and ensuring that the PCPs and other staff don't lose their jobs. I love that we have a diverse staff, but giving me a PCP who is not licensed, cannot do any documentation or assessment, cannot give Meds, cannot run groups, has no psych training, and is not allowed to run a code gray/blue or apply restraints, is unhelpful.

    Also, the union is very strict about our weekend requirements. The nurses on my shift and floor can really work it out between ourselves to allow for our own preferences (some of us would rather Sunday, others rather Saturday and others rather Friday). However management is so scared of breaking union rules.

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