Nursing Unions-what is the good,bad, ugly?

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    anyone in a nursing union w/in your facility? what is the good, bad, ugly?
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    Quote from johnson001
    anyone in a nursing union w/in your facility? what is the good, bad, ugly?
    Why pay someone to speak for you. Is your best interest the unions interest? Or, is the union only interested in collecting dues? If your hospital goes union and you decide not to, then is the union on your side?
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
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    Well, in NYS if a place has a union you MUST join it. Closed shop state.I can tell you that, since I must join if one exists where I work I will, but under no circumstances would I strike. I would, in that instance, go against my grandfathers and cross the line as a scab.
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    Here in CA if your facility is union you have to join. I've been at two facilities as an RN, both members of the same union. At my first job the union got me out of hot water and saved my job twice, because both times they were ready to fire me without getting my side of the story. Both times, because I had the union backing me up, I was able to prove my side and save my job. At my current facility admin tried to take away a lot of basics two contract negotiations ago. The union stuck to their guns and we broke even. We didn't get anything new and they didn't take anything away.

    My husband worked for a non-union company years ago and thought he had no use for them. Now he works for a union company and while he has never had to utilize their services, he's seen others who have. It's not such a dirty word to him anymore.
    tokmom and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
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    One thing I'm not crazy about in regards to unions is that you lose some flexibility and control. For instance, where I work the posted job always is awarded by seniority- the manager can't choose the best candidate. So sometimes the person who gets the job isn't a good "fit" with the team, or isn't the best clinician, and it can created some angst when you're trying to create or maintain a good team.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
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    There are several threads on this subject if you go to the "search button" and type in "union"
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    I've experienced both extremes and have mixed feelings about both as a result. Not really pro or anti-union right now because they both have disadvantages.

    I worked union up in Minnesota years ago. I worked on a respiratory unit where the respiratory therapists actually had it in their contract that they don't change out suction canisters and that it was a nurses job.
    "That's not in my contract" was echoed constantly.
    The RN's and LPN's were represented by two different, and often conflicting unions, and as a result, were often pitted against each other.

    The RN union was big on this "grid" that was used in staffing patterns. It was designed to keep a certain number of RN's on each unit based on census and was sold to us on the paranoia that LPN's would "take over" because they were cheaper labor if we didn't ensure a certain number of RN's on each unit for each shift. It was very unsafe.
    If we had too many LPN's scheduled (more than 2) then we had to swap LPN's for RN's on other units. We often traded out our regular staff acute care, vent trained LPN's for RN's floating from psych and rehab who had never touched a vent in their life.

    All for the sake of the almighty "grid" designed to protect RN jobs from LPN's.
    Minnesota's attitude in general seemed to be that any RN, regardless of skill level, was always beter than any LPN, and I witnessed with my own eyes that was clearly not true on a respiratory/vent unit.
    In addition, I worked with many nurses who should have been fired or even had their license pulled because they were so bad but the union always protected them. The union could protect anyone who could barely, barely meet minimum standards or was able to fake it enough.

    Then I moved to Texas where the mere mention of the word union could practically put you in jail.
    The RN's, LVN's, and RT's in general seemed to work more as a team without the constant bickering about contracts and stepping on job description toes. The RN's were not paranoid and threatened by LVN's in TX like they were in MN. I liked it at first.

    But over the years, I witnessed a lot of administration bullying and running reigns of terror over nurses due to their vulnerability and lack of power as a group.
    I saw many careers ruined over the famous "Group One" blacklist that hovers over DFW like a dark, dismal cloud. A supervisor/manager can make up any story about you that suits them and put you on the list, it doesn't need to be substantiated. You then become unemployable by any other hospital in the area and can do basically nothing about it.
    I've seen co-workers, patients, and family members make up stories about someone that they simply don't like for one reason or another, and they get fired without any reason or recourse. Your side of the story doesn't have to count for anything.
    I've had two co-workers reported to the BNE on completely made up stuff by bullying and terrorizing employers which cost them plenty in legal fees and time along with the fear and anxiety that goes along with your license being reviewed, all because someone decided one day that they don't like you or didn't like the way you talked to them or looked at them.

    So what I've taken away from this entire experience in nursing is that when choosing a state or hospital that is either union or non-union, it is simply a matter of picking your poison.
    AWannerLPN, mystory, CNL2B, and 1 other like this.
  10. 2
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Well, in NYS if a place has a union you MUST join it. Closed shop state.I can tell you that, since I must join if one exists where I work I will, but under no circumstances would I strike. I would, in that instance, go against my grandfathers and cross the line as a scab.
    Requiring someone to join a union is like requiring someone to join the Republican or Democratic Party, or mandating someone join the First Baptist Church, it goes against the Freedom of Choice-Freedom of Association that I believe is an integral part of being an American.
  11. 2
    Quote from nursemaa
    One thing I'm not crazy about in regards to unions is that you lose some flexibility and control. For instance, where I work the posted job always is awarded by seniority- the manager can't choose the best candidate. So sometimes the person who gets the job isn't a good "fit" with the team, or isn't the best clinician, and it can created some angst when you're trying to create or maintain a good team.
    That's another excellent point.
    In addition to always having priority with new jobs/promotions, it was very unsettling for me to know that some of the worst, laziest nurses I ever worked with in my life, would always be higher than me on the payscale due to seniority alone. Actual job performance meant very little, and being an RN at a certain union hospital since 1970 meant everything as far as money and promotions were concerned.
  12. 1
    Quote from RN34TX
    That's another excellent point.
    In addition to always having priority with new jobs/promotions, it was very unsettling for me to know that some of the worst, laziest nurses I ever worked with in my life, would always be higher than me on the payscale due to seniority alone. Actual job performance meant very little, and being an RN at a certain union hospital since 1970 meant everything as far as money and promotions were concerned.
    This issue came up for me recently with a job interview. This non-union hospital was bragging about how I could get pay raises based on performance rather than senority. Sounds great except the non-union hospital pays less than the union hospitals. So, by the time I get a pay raise based on "performance," I'll be lucky if catch up to the union money I'd lose by working for the non-union shop in the first place ... which, quite frankly, isn't likely to happen.

    So ... I guess the question is ... where does absence of a seniority system help me when the pay scale with the "performance" system is lower to begin with? It doesn't. I do wish that non-union hospitals would treat their employees better and that I wouldn't need a union but, they just don't.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Feb 24, '06
    CNL2B likes this.


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