DEBRIDE the SCABS - page 10

Replacement nurses arrive to prepare for possible strike Alternately titled.... SCABS-R-US on the move...... Replacement nurses arrive to prepare for possible strike Maura Lerner ... Read More

  1. by   nurs4kids
    As a Southern nurse, I took absolutely no offense to JT's statement. She only commented on the obvious. What I do take offense to is those destroying, for greed, what the nurses in MN are working toward. The poor wages in the south are a big reason we should NOT strike-break. These nurses are running north for temporary gain, whereas if everyone would sit back and allow the nurses with guts to negotiate without interference from scabs, we would all benefit. Also, if I understand correctly, a large portion of those nurses came from Louisiania. The pay there is not severely low compared to the rest of the nation. If you compare cost of living, nor is it low here in Alabama. So, that is no excuse to run North to scab!
  2. by   -jt
    <The adversarial issue does concern me though. What about collaboration?>

    Charles, that concerns us too. If the hospital would collaborate with us, we would be ecstatic!

    Strikes only happen after months or years of trying to get to a resolution thru negotiating (2 yrs in Worcester,MA & Nyack, NY) & ONLY AFTER the HOSPITAL walks out on negotiations & refuses to collaborate any further with the nurses. It is not the nurses running out the door to take it to the streets. It is the hospital pushing us out the door. 2 contracts ago, we were left dumbstruck at negotiations where we thought we were collaborating well & making headway & the hospital suddenly said "we're finished talking. You have our offer. Thats it". They had this planned because in unison they made a big show of slamming shut their notebooks, getting up & walking out of the room without further discussion. We had not planned to strike & thought we were actually making progress. Surprise surprise, huh?

    Well that final offer was totally unacceptable & would have had us agreeing to be laid off when we already were 50 RNs short because the hosptial had frozen vacant positions & refused to recruit, reducing our health benefits AND paying for them, reducing our salaries, diminshing our voice in policy making that would affect our practice, cutting tuition reimbursement, cutting recognition for advanced degrees, among many other things like eliminating preceptorship program (he figured he wasnt going to be hiring RNs so we didnt need preceptors anymore)...esentially knocking us back 30 yrs & removing 30 yrs worth of collective bargaining gains all of which would have made it impossible to recruit and retain ANY staff. And what would happen to the pts then??? We had no choice. We feel our hospital is ours & we felt he was killing it. We couldnt let him do that. If you cant accept the contract & the hospital will negotiate no further, you MUST strike to protest & get them back to the table.

    So thats what we did. We were forced to - as usual - But only after the hospital refused to collaborate with us anymore. This new CEO from Georgia said "theres the door, ladies" . We handed in the 10 day notice & the only provision the hospital made for our strike was to hire a scab agency. (Thats a regional vernacular). On day 7 of that notice, with 3 days left to go before the strike, the State informed the hospital it was barring those strike-breakers from coming to work because the agency did not have a license to work in NY! The hospital didnt even know the agency it hired to care for our pts was unlicensed here. That tells you how concerned our hospital was for the welfare of our pts.

    So there they were, 3 days to a strike & no replacements & no other plans to care for the pts. They tried at that point to get the other hospitals in the area to send NM & other nurses administrators to step in but those people refused & their own employers couldnt force them. The CEO had IMPLEMENTED his final offer anyway - even before the strike began - & made all those changes himself. The NLRB found the hospital guilty of a ton of labor law violations, unfair labor practices, & they were going to be heavily fined for illegally provoking a strike. (in many of the nation's RN strikes, this is found to be true too).
    The CEO was unfazed by all this.

    So the board of directors took over negotiations, frantically called our union to come back to negotiations because they had no one to take care of the pts. We agreed, called off the strike 2 days before it was supposed to start & they put back everything the CEO took away.

    Recognizing that the hospital did have some financial difficulties at the time, we once again tried to collaborate with them & WE OFFERED to SUSPEND our yearly raises for the length of the contract if they would just address the staffing & pt care issues. That means that 600plus RNs would be GIVING the hospital $2700.oo EACH in an effort to work together with the adminsitration to pull the hospital out of its difficulties.... with the stipulation that one month before the contract ended, we all would jump up to the salary we were supposed to be at if we hadnt made that gift. Id say we did our part at collaboration.

    The board agreed with that offer. We signed a "concession" contract - meaning we did not make significant gains but the top issues were adequately dealt with & we could live with it until the hospital was back on its feet. (more collaboration on our part) & there was no strike - all because there were no "replacements" available. Had the agnecy had a NY license, the hospital would have sat back & let the strike happen.

    As it was, 2 months later the CEO was "allowed to resign" - 2 yrs ahead of his contract expiration date. But HIS contract was fully paid out. HE didnt have to make any monetary gift to rectify the disaster he caused.

    It would be wonderful if they would collaborate - believe me we try very hard -but what we seem to get is a few months of slow progress & then a temper tantrum followed by "Take it or Leave it". So how do we get these businessmen to collaborate??? If the contract doesnt do anything to improve issues that are affecting pt care we have to leave it until they come to their senses & figure out another way & are more collaborative with us.
  3. by   -jt
    <<it was 98 strikebreakers short! Guess what? The Hospital had to ask the nurse negotiators to come back to the table to bargain again! Just because there weren't enough bodies to fill the slots! If there weren't strikebreakers involved, we could have had this offer several weeks ago,>>

    I KNEW IT! I told you so!!!!!!!!!!!! ; )

    I'll never understand why administrators have to chose the route of a strike. Why cant they just collaborate, be professional & compromise - settle from the beginning - instead of trying to be the master with the whip? Is that anyway to treat professionals? Force us out the door with their adversarial tactics & then tell us that WE are "unprofessional" for going out??
  4. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by natalie:
    <STRONG>I find it incredible that, knowing the history of the nursing profession, you charge that we have established an "adversarial approach" with hospitals. Kudos to you for your entrepreneurial nursing, but surely you must know of the onerous working conditions of nurses in hospitals.

    Washington Hospital Center strike-The nurses were offered a 17% raise by the hospital. The union COUNTER-OFFERED with a 16% raise (that is not a misprint) in exchange for mandatory overtime language and more say in nurse/patient ratios. The hospital DECLINED!!!

    Current Minnesota strike-The nurses are demanding a say in determining STAFFING ratios.

    Brocton strike-ditto. They want a say in how much gets dumped on them in their workday. They also want money. So what?

    Is there a reason you can give us that nurses should not be demanding fair compensation for work performed?

    Doctors, pilots, teachers, architects. They all have unions. Here's the difference between their professions and ours...they don't have scabs.</STRONG>
    Natalie and JT...thanx for the information that I asked for. I really was seeking that information..and as for wages...I am and have been one of the first to say nurses are way undercompensated. There is no argument there. The adversarial issue does concern me though. What about collaboration?

    chas
  5. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by -jt:
    <STRONG>&lt;when was the last time a contract was turned down based solely on patient issues? I would be interested to know, because what I read suggests that negotiations are usually, if not always stalemated because of nurse wages and benefits&gt;

    Charles Charles Charles...... look around at the strikes. The nurses in Minnesota did not accept the contracts UNTIL their STAFFING issues were addressed. Most of them ended up with the same pay increases that were offered in the offers that didnt address the staffing issues. They refused that but once the staffing issues were addressed, accepted it. So those contracts were turned down because of STAFFING issues. Most are. The nurses in DC last year rejected their hospitals offer of a high raise & offered to take less of a raise if the hospital would address its pt issues -the hospital said NO. At my hospital, we didnt even want double-digit raises. We wanted safe staffing ratios & restrictions on mandatory ot. The hospital refused to discuss it - until we took a strike vote last Dec. Six days later not only did they discuss it but they agreed to all of it. Once again, negotiations had been stalled over pt issues - until the threat of a strike sounded. Most negotiations are stalmated over STAFFING and PT issues as well as professional practice...NOT money. Just look at Wild's posts on the matter berating us for NOT turning down contracts on the pay issues and chiding us for NOT getting bigger increases from a strike. He laughed at NY nurses who struck over safe staffing ratios & mandatory OT - because they only took a 5% raise per year of a 3 yr contract....BUT they ELIMINATED the practice of mandatory OT and GAINED staffing guidelines, an RN staffing committee & safe staffing ratios. Thats usually the way it is - not the way you thought. However, The economics are important too because if the pay & benefits are not up to par, RNs will not want to work at that facility, unsafe short staffing will persist & that IS a pt issue - and a strike issue. Economics and pt care issues are related so yes money is an issue too. The thing is nurses will accept less of it & put the pt issues before the amount of any raise they get. I have never heard of a strike happening over just one thing. In all of them that I have heard of, the issues are intertwined just like this. I never heard of a strike where all the other pt issues were addressed adqequately but the nurses stayed on strike just to get even higher raises than were offered. If all the other pt care issues are adequately addressed, they take a smaller raise, & accept the contract, recognizing that the hospital will be spending more money on putting all those other improvements into place & once it does, they will able to recruit/retain more staff. And those are the issues they struck for. Having said all that, still, no nurse should have to defend or make excuses for demanding to be paid a salary reflective of her value/responsibility to the facility & its pts.

    "Realize that its untrue to say we cant afford to boost nurse salaries or nurse staffing. The truth is, theres money enough to afford the type of healthcare and working conditions for nurses that we all want. As a society, we're choosing to spend that money elsewhere. Nurses need to own the legitimacy of being well-paid and compensated as respected professionals. We need to educate the public about the inequities of nursing salaries. We must stop feeling that we should play nice when it comes to economic issues. Our skills, knowledge, and wisdom are valuable, and they should be compensated as such. The public wont get the point about nursing salaries until nurses themselves get it...." http://community.nursingspectrum.com...e.cfm?AID=4098</STRONG>
    Actually, if my history serves, the San Franciso Bay area strike in the late 80s was such a case. The public, as I recall, lost faith in the nurses (who were backed by the general public) when the thrust of the strike issue was stated as patient concern, yet they sent back the last 3 contracts over money. Someone refresh my memory if I am in error. As to the last paragraph...I support those statements whole heartedly. That is why I choose to take a different approach to moving compensation to the level we deserve. When you look at it...we both are preaching the same message...just in different churches.

    chas
  6. by   PeggyOhio
    -jt and natalie,
    Thank you for making it clear that proper staffing and mandatory overtime are the heart of nursing issues. I honestly believe those two issues are the ones that are driving nurses out of the profession.
    Sure we griped about the money but if the other conditions and work environment had stayed good we wouldn't be where we are today.

    -jt
    Thank you for the link to the article listing 13 "Things you can do to help relieve the nursing shortage. I especially enjoyed the end of the article.

    "Can you imagine the splash nursing would make if EACH OF US took one of these steps once a month for the next six months?

    To quote anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Nurses are not a small group. We’re thoughtful. We’re committed. We can become outspoken, articulate, and powerful. We can change the nursing world."

    I urge all nurses to read it and DO IT!
  7. by   natalie
    jt-The turn of events at your hospital was fascinating to read.

    I think we have a long history of attempting collaboration. Nurses, by the nature of the work, are continually trying to smooth things over.

    Here's an interesting piece of nursing history. It's from 1966 and could be fastforwarded to today.
    http://www.as.ysu.edu/~cwcs/Nursestrike.htm
  8. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by natalie:
    <STRONG>jt-The turn of events at your hospital was fascinating to read.

    I think we have a long history of attempting collaboration. Nurses, by the nature of the work, are continually trying to smooth things over.

    Here's an interesting piece of nursing history. It's from 1966 and could be fastforwarded to today.
    http://www.as.ysu.edu/~cwcs/Nursestrike.htm</STRONG>
    Very interesting indeed! and I truly appreciate the time and energy you put forth to educate! Now I have another question...what involvement do your unions have with choosing the CEO? or working with making salaries equitable across the board, including the CEO? Is that possible? Is there some way to leverage the good will with the board to begin collaborating with them instead of the CEO exclusively?

    chas
  9. by   -jt
    &lt;Now I have another question...what involvement do your unions have with choosing the CEO? or working with making salaries equitable across the board, including the CEO? Is that possible? Is there some way to leverage the good will with the board to begin collaborating with them instead of the CEO exclusively?&gt;

    Neither us nor our union have anything to do with the management salaries. The hospital as employer does it wants with them. we have only a say in what happens with US & in the equitable salaries across the board of nurses who are represented. The employer has management rights to hire who it wants & to do what it wants with those who are not represented. The VP of Nursing was involved in interviewing CEO candidates & she vehemently opposed the hiring of this one. Thats probably one of the reasons he WAS hired! We never negotiate with the CEO himself & the board of directors does not get involved unless there is a crisis - but they let it get to the crisis point.

    The Human Resources Director is the chief negotiator & he takes his orders from the CEO & others. The board had given this CEO carte blanche in directing negotiations for 18 mths although he never attended one session. You would think that after this fiasco, the next contract negotiations would have gone much better 2 yrs later but lo & behold, we met the same hardline. We went to the Board of Directors very early on & several times more & asked had they learned nothing from their experience that they were allowing the same atmosphere to occur????
    We may have had a different CEO but the board of directors was the same & so was the hardline negotiations they allowed their team to take.

    Nothing was done about it for 9 months & only AFTER we were forced to take a strike vote. Though negotiations were not as bad as before, they were bad enough that the HR director laughed at us across the table & dared us to strike in December over the excessive use of mandatory ot & their refusal to agree to safe staffing ratios.

    We did & this time instead of hiring the scab agency, they came running back to the table & within six days had offered us a contract with everything we needed - including restrictions on Mandatory OT & acceptance of the staffing ratios that we wanted set for every unit from the beginning. We never even had to hand in the strike notice this time. They knew we were voting & all we did was tell them the outcome afterwards & offer more dates for negotiations if they were interested.

    One marathon 21 hour negotiations session later, we had the contract we needed - and no strike. (21 hours!!! - after being strung along for 9 months! We could have said "listen guys, you had plenty of time to deal with this. Come back tomorrow." but we stayed & worked thru the night at compromises both sides could live with. More collaboration on our part). All night long, the HR director had to keep running out of the room to call the head honcho of the parent corporation (the CEO's boss) to get approval on one thing after the other before agreeing.

    But why did we have to get to a strike vote before they could see their way clear to collaborate with us on pt/nurse safety? It still took them 9 months of negotiating & a push to a strike vote before they paid attention. The board knew what was happening & what it had been thru before, yet they STILL did not direct the CEO to direct HR to settle the contract. It boggles the mind how after everything from the last contract, they STILL did not change their ways. We keep forgetting that the board of directors are businessmen from the community & OUTSIDE the community so they see things very differently & have no clue about pt care. (the president of our board lives 2 states away!) Yet THEY are the ones in charge behind the scenes & will not deal with us themselves.

    We are not the problem. We do everything we can to get the hospital to work with us. We bend over backwards. In fact, in that other contract, the hospital kept saying it had no money to fill RN positions or keep from laying off RNs, so we chose to suspend our raises, GIVE the hospital $2700 EACH (x 600+ RNs!) to help PAY for the RN hiring & keep the nurse staffing we needed. Immediately after that, 30 RN positions were unfrozen & filled.... & our "gift" paid for that.

    How much more can we do? We ask, beg, plead, demand that the Board give direction to the CEO & work with us. we write letters to them, call them, publish open letters to them in the newspapers, utilize community leaders to influence them into taking action & still they drag their feet.....until the last moment of crisis.

    You could probably get rich quick if you could come up with a way to get the businessmen running the place - from the CEO to the Board of directors - to work more collaboratively with the nurses. To them we are just the hired help.... and too damn expensive.
  10. by   toonces48
    First off, only when nurses are united will they get what they want and need. Good pay, decent hours, respect. Not until then. Strikebreakers have always been around. The administration knows that they are only a temporary solution. These strikebreakers are also budget breakers. Eventually they move on to find another strike at another place, because they won't be getting that amount of pay for any length of time. Most nurses with stable backgrounds and stable jobs won't get involved with strikebreaking.
  11. by   -jt
    they are also STRIKE breakers - they prevent the nurses from getting a swift, fair settlement. The help the hospital avoid addressing the issues. As much as they would like to believe that what they are doing harms no one & helps punish the hospital, they are so very wrong. They dont hurt the hospital administration or force it to get back to negotiations. Their being there HELPs the hospital to REFUSE to go back to negotiations & prolongs the strike. All they hurt are the striking nurses. They are not working in a vaccuum & their actions, besides making them a mint to take back home, also do considerable damage to the striking nurses who have to live & work with the conditions at that hospital long after the STRIKE-breakers move on. Conditions which, if the scabs werent there, might have been improved much more because the RNs would still have had their full bargaining leverage = "Hospital, deal with us & these issues or shut down"
  12. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by -jt:
    <STRONG>they are also STRIKE breakers - they prevent the nurses from getting a swift, fair settlement. The help the hospital avoid addressing the issues. As much as they would like to believe that what they are doing harms no one & helps punish the hospital, they are so very wrong. They dont hurt the hospital administration or force it to get back to negotiations. Their being there HELPs the hospital to REFUSE to go back to negotiations & prolongs the strike. All they hurt are the striking nurses. They are not working in a vaccuum & their actions, besides making them a mint to take back home, also do considerable damage to the striking nurses who have to live & work with the conditions at that hospital long after the STRIKE-breakers move on. Conditions which, if the scabs werent there, might have been improved much more because the RNs would still have had their full bargaining leverage = "Hospital, deal with us & these issues or shut down"</STRONG>
    JT...thank you for all of the inside scoop from all of the work you guys did along the way. I truly appreciate it. I have my creative thinking cap on now because i think you may have given me a clue on something that has been missing all along..from both sides. It is just a mushy cloud of ideas right now, but give me a little time. By the time we meet in DC, I may have something concrete for you. Thanx again.

    chas
  13. by   -jt
    &lt;&lt;Well that final offer was totally unacceptable & would have had us agreeing to be laid off when we already were 50 RNs short because the hosptial had frozen vacant positions & refused to recruit, reducing our health benefits AND paying for them, reducing our salaries, diminshing our voice in policy making that would affect our practice, cutting tuition reimbursement, cutting recognition for advanced degrees, among many other things like eliminating preceptorship program (he figured he wasnt going to be hiring RNs so we didnt need preceptors anymore)...esentially knocking us back 30 yrs & removing 30 yrs worth of collective bargaining gains all of which would have made it impossible to recruit and retain ANY staff. And what would happen to the pts then??? We had no choice. We feel our hospital is ours & we felt he was killing it. We couldnt let him do that. If you cant accept the contract & the hospital will negotiate no further, you MUST strike to protest & get them back to the table. &gt;&gt;


    One more point....
    this fiasco lasted 18 mths start to finish. It took its toll on the nurses physically. Some ended up admitted for stress related problems. One to CCU. I myself gained 85 lbs from the stress! (all gone now, thank god).
    The CEO ordered the MDs to be his henchmen & they did - because they were promised profit-sharing and the things the CEO was illegally removing from our contract would have saved them $1.3 million that they could share amongst themselves. The MDs whom we had known for 20 yrs or more & we had trained as residents & lived in the neighborhood with, & were friends with suddenly became the CEOs lieutents & turned on us for that money. That hurt the most. Professional relationships suffered. And this wasnt even a strike! This was the daily conditions we were working under while the CEO illegally eliminated most of our contract & everyone around him let him - including the nurse executives.

    THEN he eliminated the nurse executives, 80% of the Nursing dept, nurse managers. Then the VP of Nursing was removed from the organizational chart & told her position no longer existed. We didnt need a VP of Nursing because nurses would now report under the VP of Medicine!!! All of this was done with the Board of Directors and MDs approvals!

    The DON objected so he fired her on the spot & had security physically remove her from the premises. It was like all out war on nursing!

    That day all the nurses working chose to take make a visible statement to all this & took their 15 minute break simultaneously at noon.
    Took the hosiptal by surprise when 250 RNs started filling the stairwells & streaming out the lobby door. The security guards were telling their walkie talkies "the nurses are leaving" Administration was caught off guard, but the newspaper reporters, & city councilmen who were tipped off were out there waiting for us. The nurses took 15 mintues which they are entitled to, one RN stayed on each unit & we told the interns & residents they couldnt leave the units till 12:05 so no pt was at risk.

    The CEO was livid but couldnt do a thing to us for taking our break. The story made the papers & made public what he did to the nursing dept. The Board of Directors was embarrassed (but did some good pr spin-doctoring on it) & the nurses energized to strike. Still that did not stop the hospitals practices of doing whatever it wanted to us to save on its profit margin (& its a non-profit hospital!)

    Some of you may say why didnt we just leave instead of putting up with this. Especially since in our city, there are hospitals every mile or so. It would have been so very easy to quit this place & go get another job some place else. Or work agency anywhere but then the CEO would have gotten away with squashing nursing, throwing us back to the dark ages & probably destroying our 175 yr old neighborhood hospital& nursing school which he had no ties to & said so.

    AND every other hospital administration in the entire city was watching to see if this guy could get away with knocking back the nurses "to their place" as he said - they were prepared to do it all too!! Job-hopping would be of no help. They were all planning the same if he could do it. The man was even written about a few times in Cranes Business Weekly while all this was going on! He was actually being admired by his peers for his innovative techniques!!!

    The situation we were in is not unique or unusual. We succeeded because we have a strong union & because the hospital could not have "replacements" for a strike. Imagine what the nurses hes doing all this to in Georgia right now are going thru - where he is right now, the RNs are not unionized & have no protection.

    When he was here doing it to us, We got letters from nurses all over the city telling us everyone was talking about him & how he was breaking the union & saving money. Nurses begged us not to let him set a new lower economic or workplace standard for nurses in our city. A lot of our nurses did quit rather than get sick over this, most of us didnt. And we fought back - not just for ourselves but because if we didnt fight, we would have been making it possible for all nurses in our city to be shoved right back to the 1940's. And no matter where you went to work, that would be standard. This CEOs policies would have become the model for all hopsitals here. The other hospital administrations were sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to pounce into action following his example.

    Nurses from other hosptials came & picketed outside ours, the Boro President declared it Nurses Day & led a march thru downtown at rush hour to bring to the public awareness what was happening in their neighborhood hospital. Nurses from the all over the city came to march in that because it was common knowledge that if the CEO was successful in pushing down nurses, all nurses in our city would be facing the same thing.

    Articles started appearing titled David Mets Goliath...
    The NLRB ruled that all the contract changes had been illegally made by the CEO & everything he did had to be undone. The the papers then read David Brings Down Goliath! Suddenly other adminsitrators were saying how this guy was crazy & how wrong he was to do all these things! They quickly distanced themselves from him & his policies & let him out of his contract but gave him millions$$$ to go.

    Once we got rid of the CEO for good, rebuilding started on the nursing dept & most of those people who were fired were called back.
    NOw the MDs who tried to help him break us tell us the man was THEIR worst nightmare.

    Now, Can you see how when a scab comes in to cross our strike line even though they know that diminshes our bargaining leverage & how when a scab comes in to corss our line,knowing nothing about what we are going thru daily has the audacity to say we are striking "out of greed" & "do not care about the pts" & if we "dont like it we should just go work someplace else", we just want to spit.

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