Originally posted by Tiara:
Good editorial in Atlantic City Press about the problems we've been discussing: www.pressplus.com
Click on columns/opinions on right side.
Some progress for nurses!
I thought the letters to the editor written by nurses were very interesting:
Nurses need to unionize:
I am a registered nurse at a local hospital where nurses are attempting to obtain union representation.
Your recent article on the nursing shortage stated that a starting salary for nurses in this area is $50,000. I would like to know where that hospital is so I can apply. In our area, registered nurses start out at $19 per hour, which comes nowhere close to $50,000.
Your article also mentioned that the shortage was not created by nurses leaving the profession. If I were a young woman graduating college, I would not be going into a profession where I had to take people's lives in myhands for $19 per hour.
The nursing shortage was not only created by the current low wages, but by managed-care cutbacks.
We need to improve wages and benefits for nurses to encourage more people to enter the field. This is why nurses need collective bargaining.
Besides wages and shortages, nurses at our hospital were told about a year ago that we may soon be required to work overtime. Nurses in our emergency room already have to do this, which was not a requirement when most of the nurses were hired.
Our need for collective bargaining has nothing to do with the hospital. I have worked at the institution for 20 years, and have not been treated unfairly, nor have I seen patients neglected. In fact I feel we provide quality care.
Our reason for needing collective bargaining is to ensurethat nurses empower themselves to make decisions that affect our own profession, such as competitive salaries, protecting our working rights and improving the ratio of nurses to patients.
The administrators are not the ones at the bedside shocking someone's heart into starting, or holding a patient's hand while they die. We, the nurses are! We want to improve and maintain quality patient care, as well as build our profession to where it should be today.
Nurse shortage will get worse:
Regarding the Feb. 27 story, "Remedies sought for nursing shortage'':
This nursing shortage is a serious, unique situation and not the type of shortage that has been experienced almost every decade.
This shortage is an issue of both supply and demand. The issues that have led to this shortage, and that will even increase the demand for nurses in the future, are a growing population in the state, a diminishing supply of students going into the field of nursing, an aging workforce (approximately one half of the current nursing workforce will be of retirement age within the next five to 15 years), and a baby-boom bubble that will require intense health-care services.
The image of nursing has suffered from some bad publicity while I and others in education continue to teach nursing students to be ethical, professional, caring and safe practitioners. The hospitals need to take a good look at their staff, encourage them, reward them and praise them. Nursing has become a very thankless profession, and often this is the reason that nurses do not encourage their children to go into the field.
One way to alleviate the nursing shortage is to meet the immediate need by increasing enrollment in the licensed-practical-nurse program, the shortest program to begin the nursing career.
From this entry-level nursing position, the sky is the limit, and the public receives the benefit. In almost all cases where LPNs go on to become registered nurses, they continue to work in the health-care field while attending school.
Other recommendations include employers providing scholarships for current employees who wish to start in the field, with a stipulation that following graduation they remain at the facility for the time it took them to obtain their education.
R**** G. M****
(Editor's note: The writer is the practical nurse coordinator at Atlantic County Vocational Technical School.)
Exhausted nurses aren't the answer:
After reading Gary Carter's article in Healthcare Focus on March 11, one question comes to mind: ARE YOU NUTS?
Here is a guy warning us that "Our state anticipates a shortage of 14,000 RNs over the next five years,'' and what is his solution? Let's alienate the faithful and dedicated nurses we already have by forcing them to work longer hours. Carter and his cronies advocate "mandatory overtime" for nurses working for hospitals, and they vehemently oppose Sen. Joseph Vitale's bill to prohibit hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime. Well, I say God bless Senator Vitale.
These are hospitals, not PLANTATIONS.
I suggest that if Carter and his fat-cat administrator friends are so concerned about the level of "bedside" care that they try it for an 18-hour shift. In most jobs, if someone makes a mistake because they are tired, people don't die, but that's not true with nursing. Would you want a bleary-eyed nurse starting an IV on your critically ill infant?
I would encourage every nurse in New Jersey to send Carter and the New Jersey Hospital Association a bedpan, because that's where his plan belongs.
Little Egg Harbor
Unions imperfect, but necessary:
Are unions necessary? Are unions perfect? Are they really democracies?
They go through certain motions to substantiate this pretense. However, most unions have deteriorated into benevolent despotisms run by a clique of insiders. Some have become nothing more than employment agencies. Elections are controlled; business agents and shop stewards are appointed. Actually, union politics are a carbon copy of government politics, so we should be accustomed to the process.
Unions were mostly birthed in blood baths by brave and desperate men and women who saw no other choices. Initially, they were pure democracies.
Over the years, the attitudes of owners were modified and all workers, both union and non-union, benefited by the early work of and presence of unions.
Without the unions, no matter how imperfect they may be, it wouldn't be long before we were back to the Gilded Age of fabulously rich owners and desperately poor workers.
Shore Memorial Nurses Ask: What Does Hospital Have in Mind?
Letter of Federal Law Does Not Guarantee Protection
SOMERS POINT, NJ, Feb. 26, 2001 Registered nurses at Shore Memorial Hospital reacted in surprise and disappointment today at hospital managements refusal to sign an agreement to guarantee a free and fair union election. (hmmm wonder why not & what the hospital has up its sleeve to prevent
a free, fair election!)
Hospital management is ignoring the real issue by saying it will only follow the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. Merely following the Act is not sufficient because the Act does not address issues of campaign conduct and communication.
Time and again, hospitals have used the letter of this law to sidestep its intent protecting employees rights to a free and fair election. Who are the losers in such a situation? The working women and men who are fighting for their workplace rights.
The hospitals response leaves the nurses asking: What does this mean about how the hospital will conduct itself in the upcoming election campaign? Does this mean the hospital will:
Require nurses to leave patient care duties to discuss campaign issues?
Hire an expensive anti-union consultant costing hundreds of thousands of dollars money that could be better spent on improving patient care and working conditions?
Force the nurses to attend one-sided, pro-management meetings?
Require its supervisors to engage in front-line intimidation tactics?
The nurses further ask: Which of the agreements proposals does the hospital believe would restrict the free flow of information? The agreement is designed to guarantee a free exchange.
If the hospital has a problem with any of the agreements proposals, the nurses are more than willing to meet with management to clarify the terms. The nurses challenge the hospital to follow these guidelines for a free and fair election. If the hospital does not, the nurses will not hesitate to let the public know about its conduct.
Shore Memorial Nurses Ask: What Does Hospital Have in Mind?
Date Set for Shore Memorial Union Election
Somers Point, NJ
March 8, 2001 The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has set Wednesday, April 4, and Thursday, April 5, as the dates for the union election at Shore Memorial Hospital. The hospitals 400 registered nurses are seeking to establish the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) as their collective bargaining representative. NYSNA filed a petition for election with the NLRB office in Philadelphia on February 20. The election will be
conducted by secret ballot, with the count being overseen by NLRB officials.
With more than 33,000 members, NYSNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in New York state and is one of the largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. A multi-purpose organization, NYSNA fosters high standards for nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA http://www.nysna.org