RNs covering non-RNs for strike shifts?

  1. Hi everyone,

    The service workers (environmental, food service, etc) of our hospital are possibly going to go on strike next month. The hospital policy is to use us, (the nurses) to cover their shifts while they are on strikes. That means that I am required to sign up for additional shifts to come in and clean the unit, answer phones, and work in the cafeteria.

    I think this is grossly unfair and goes against everything I have learned in nursing school about perpetuating the idea that nurses are to be perceived as professionals. In addition, it's mandatory overtime.

    Everyone I work with seems rather complacent about it. I was wondering if anyone else out there had an opinion on the matter.

    --Beth
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    So when you were hired, was this in your contract to cover these jobs in such a case?

    If not, I would refuse to do it.

    If so, I would consider this it not the place I would want to continue working. This won't solve the problem and nurses will be so fatigued from doing these other jobs that mistakes and sick calls will skyrocket. Seems unbelievably short-sighted to me.
  4. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from BethAn
    Hi everyone,

    The service workers (environmental, food service, etc) of our hospital are possibly going to go on strike next month. The hospital policy is to use us, (the nurses) to cover their shifts while they are on strikes. That means that I am required to sign up for additional shifts to come in and clean the unit, answer phones, and work in the cafeteria.

    I think this is grossly unfair and goes against everything I have learned in nursing school about perpetuating the idea that nurses are to be perceived as professionals. In addition, it's mandatory overtime.

    Everyone I work with seems rather complacent about it. I was wondering if anyone else out there had an opinion on the matter.

    --Beth
    I'm generally not pro-union and even I think it would be seriously wrong for the nurses to 'cross' the line by doing this work.

    I wouldn't do it. It treats you unprofessionally to expect this of you. More important, it serves to undermine those strikers. You have to seriously wonder how TPTB truly view nurses if this is their solution to a strike. Really, don't you?

    I would refuse to the point of losing my job. Under those circumstances, it would not be worth keeping in any case. If only 20% of the nurses refuse, there would be too much at stake to make it a matter of termination to insist.

    Some things are worth taking a stand. This is one of them. If you let TPTB calculate that this is the level of respect you deserve, it will be the level of respect you receive. And, it is not cool to undermine your co-workers thusly. Nurses pay lots of lipservice to the concept of 'team'. Well, if we really believe that, then is it OK to backstab your team members, just because its convenient of management to ask you to?

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Oct 20, '06
  5. by   TazziRN
    I am pro-union but I think this is wrong. If the nursing staff wanted to support the strikers with a sympathy strike, that's one thing, but to ask you to do their jobs........there are things about their jobs that we do not know about, and we would not be able to carry out those duties safely. Do you know about cleaners? I don't! What about the equipment in the kitchen? I would refuse.
  6. by   RNsRWe
    So I suppose if the RNs were to go on strike, the kitchen staff would begin passing meds? Would housekeeping begin patient assessment first thing in the morning, or would they do the floors first? Fair is fair, right?

    Ridiculous.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Good point brought up in the posts here. Mandated OT is just the tip of the iceberg here!

    Think about it: Asking nurses to assume cleaning and kitchen responsibilities....BIG safety issue. Housekeeping staff are trained to properly clean rooms to infection-control standards, and their duties include use of industrial-strength chemicals/agents to do so. Kitchen staff are trained to use industrial equipment that is known to be hazardous if not used properly. To do any of these things improperly could result in injury of the nurses doing this job and also, could present an infection control issue regarding room/common area cleanliness. How much time does this place propose to spend training NURSES to use industrial cleaners and equipment to do these jobs??? And are they prepared for some possible major mishaps and injuries doing this?

    BAD move on the part of this hospital. I repeat: Do you REALLY want to continue to work there? Even if this strike never happens, this is very telling of the type of employer you are working for. Bad deal.

    If this is indeed instituted, I think I might go as far as to notify local news outlets about this situation. It presents some very real safety concerns for employees and patients, alike.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Oct 20, '06
  8. by   HeartsOpenWide
    Fight fire with fire, maybe the nurses should go on strike. Skoff!

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