union?

  1. How do you feel about a union in nursing? The company I work for pays little, yet the agency nurses make 3 times as much as we do. Would a union help this issue or hinder it?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   orrnlori
    So you get a union and then the hospital still won't do want your union wants. What do you do, strike? I think that this is a main problem that nurses have when considering unionizing. At some point the last place a union goes is to the picket line. What about the nurses caring for patients when the line goes up, abandon their patients?

    I come from a union family (Teamsters) but you know, I think unions cause more problems than not. Ultimately you pay fees out of your pay each week to the union to represent you and like I said, ultimately your last option is strike.
  4. by   Sheri257
    In my area, half of new nursing grads commute 30 miles away because local hospitals pay less.

    However, one local hospital finally decided to pay more. But that was only after the nurses voted to unionize, and their union (CNA) negotiated a new contract which pays higher wages.

    The nurses did threaten to walk out, but the hospital decided to pay instead. So, in this case, the union did make a difference. I doubt this would have happened without the union.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Feb 14, '04
  5. by   zenman
    Health care costs were slated to rise after the nurse's strike here last year, then there was the bus strike which crippled the island, now the concrete workers are on strike because of health benefits (remember the nursing strike). This just as the construction boom was taking off. Now thousands of construction projects are halted and workers are being laid off. Where does it end? May the stupid people rule!
  6. by   New Castle Ken
    Quote from DebiRN
    How do you feel about a union in nursing? The company I work for pays little, yet the agency nurses make 3 times as much as we do. Would a union help this issue or hinder it?
    I have worked at 2 union hospitals, one was great and the other OK. The thing about a union is that the officers are your co-workers and how the union works depends on the officers and the members taking an interest in and supporting the union. Most members do not attend meetings or become involved except at contract time. A lot of times a mature contract contains "goodies" that make a better work environment. For instance, at one we finally we got a clause for mandatory overtime (MO).

    MO was always a problem. Holes that couldn't be filled were left in the schedule. When the shift came and there were holes the supervisors filled them with MO. The clause we got in the contract was that MO could only be used for an emergency (and the staff had a right to know what the emergency was), and it was a maximum of 4 hours (unless you volunteered to stay for 8). It is amazing that holes in the schedule were always filled after this and MO was seldom needed. Also the first 2 overtime shifts of a pay period had to be paid double-time. One of my co-workers was told to stay for MO and asked what the emergency was. The supervisor refused to tell him, he refused to stay, and was suspended for 5 days. He filed a grievance and won. He was paid back the 5 days he was off on suspension.

    In another instance, the administration decided the crisis unit should be open 24/7. Previously only 7A-11P. Instead of hiring a night shift they decided to do it as mandatory on-call. Once the doctors who covered crisis found they could keep patients over, there was always someone staying over. In other words if you had on-call you just planned to stay a double. The staff nurses filed a grievance which had to keep going up the ladder until it reached the VP for Human Resources. He found that the history showed this was mandatory overtime and the hospital must hire a regular night shift.

    These are just 2 instances I can think of. With a union nurses must be treated fairly but it up to the individual nurses to know the contract and stick up for it.
  7. by   gwenith
    Striking is not the only action that can be taken by a union - we have had pulled a non-uniform strike (not real popular as who wants muck on thier civies) however it does give the impression to the public that the nurses are considerate of patient needs while letting them know how the important issues. We have pulled "work to rules" where we refused to do certain duties i.e. customer satisfaction surveys. A recent strike saw the nurses refuse to enter data (non clinical that is) into the computers - that one hurt as they started to miss out on payment.
  8. by   Sheri257
    Quote from zenman
    May the stupid people rule!
    It's not always stupid. If you're an unskilled grocery worker, like the ones in California who have gone on strike, it is probably stupid, mostly because you are unskilled labor and the company can hire anybody to replace you. There is no leverage.

    But if you're a skilled nurse, and can't be replaced so easily, it's not so stupid. Especially when hospitals are short and a nurse can find work just about anywhere. Nurses, especially when they band together, have tons of leverage.

    The union IS the only reason wages were raised in my town. And they did it without a strike. Why? Because the hospital knew the nurses could find any number of jobs within 30 miles driving distance if there was a strike. So they caved.

    Thanks to the union, this hospital is now the highest paying in the area. It was an landmark event in my community, where half the nurses have commuted elsewhere because of low pay.

    That's not stupid. That's incredibly smart.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Feb 15, '04
  9. by   JMP
    Most hospitals in Canada are unionized. I am in Ontario and it is illegal for RN's to strike.
    I feel the unions have helped nursing..and hurt them.
    Example- we have the highest pay rates in Canada- top of the pay scale RN's make just over 33 dollars an hour. We are protected, have pensions, lots of good things like that.
    Example- downside is that when you are in a unionized enviroment work ethics sometimes ( not always) get thrown out the window. There is no reward for hardwork, low sick time etc....... and there are times when some nurses attitudes towards work, sick time etc makes me gag....... I think as a professional body we have a responsiblity to the professional role.

    Other time I don't like being in a union...... just when the talk turns to "us against them"........ I don't find it helpful.

    My 2cents. JMP
  10. by   zenman
    May the stupid people rule!
    Stupid...meaning those who have their own interests at heart without considering the ripple effects.
  11. by   New Castle Ken
    Nurses must look out for themselves or no one else will. By speaking as a voice they can get more accomplished. Nurses who have a feeling that they have some control over their career and practice are less likely to leave their place of employment and nursing.

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