Union, yes or no? - page 6

I am a new nurse and have recently heard that the nurses at my hospital are considering going union. It seems (at least on my unit) that the biggest issue is pay. Are any of you guys union and if... Read More

  1. by   OC_An Khe
    Steph,
    What happens when the administration refuses to talk wth you? They're under no legal oblgation to talk. Been there, had VP of Human Resources tell me exacly that. If they do talk and you reach an agreement there nothing to keep them (adminstration) from changing that agreement at ther discretion.
    Freedom of choce is a good thing, but it does cut both ways.
  2. by   pickledpepperRN
    The CNA just had it's election. 100% of the elected officers and Board of Directors are direct care RNs. They do NOT get paid.
    Quality patient care is #1.
    Working conditions are #2.

    The employees work for the nurses and they know it.
    An employee disciplined for attendance, showing up late, and/or laziness would have the nurse representative and labor representative try to make a deal such as "The write up will be removed from the file if there are no more incidents in the next 6 months (or year).
    Management is NOT discouraged from doing their job of enforcing high standards of patient care and professionalism.

    The ANA, to my knowledge has 100% RNs making policy. Managers may (I think) be elected. I know educators may.

    SEIU is different. I do not know their structure. They are BIG so nurses are in the minority.
  3. by   -jt
    <The ANA, to my knowledge has 100% RNs making policy. Managers may (I think) be elected. I know educators may.>

    ALL RNs, no matter the field they work in, can be members of the ANA, run for office, & be elected by the other RN members. The RN members make the policies of the ANA & vote on them. But the non-union, non-direct care RN members of the ANA are not part of the union branch, & cannot have anything to say about or do with the union or its policies. The union branch (the UAN - which consists of the unionized state nurses assoc within the ANA & totals approx 100,000 direct care RNs from 27 states at the moment) and those state nurses assoc' union divisions are only for RNs working in direct pt care. No managers, specialists, educators, or executives allowed.

    The union branch is affiliated with the ANA but it is also a separate entity from the ANA & the non-union members. Only direct pt care RNs can be members, run for office & be elected. It has autonomy & self-governance, is made up of & controlled 100% by direct care RNs, including the board, executive council, officers, delegates, & staff nurse representatives who all serve on their own time. No one gets paid.

    I dont know why some people just cant understand that an RN union run for & by RNs, as yours & mine are, is not the same thing as what they imagine the big-bad unions to be.
    Last edit by -jt on May 22, '03
  4. by   -jt
    My experience with the union branch of my state assoc has been the same as yours has been: "The write up will be removed from the file if there are no more incidents in the next 6 months (or year). Management is NOT discouraged from doing their job of enforcing high standards of patient care and professionalism".

    We try to have them give the RN a chance to improve and learn from the mistake, rather than just terminating her. If its been a progressive problem & the hospital has grounds to fire her, then I/we try to negotiate a resignation instead of termination & allow her to receive her accrued paid time. Sometimes the hospital will even agree to a suspension, instead of termination, if the RN agrees to continuing education in the matter, even if they have grounds for termination.

    Many times I have had to inform an RN that she was wrong, & show her why she was wrong, but many times also the punishment is too much for the crime & what we do is work with the hospital to make the discipline more fair & to educate the RN so it doesnt happen again. Some people here dont seem to understand that it is not about "protecting" poorly functioning workers or the "bad" nurse - its about helping someone to improve. What good does it do to just fire someone & have them continue their poor functioning in the next place - possibly putting the pts there at risk?

    If the issue is such that the RN is potentially harmful to a pt or needs help in her life, we work to get her the help she needs, rather than letting the hospital just cut her lose by firing her & that be the end of it. One recent case occurred where a staff RN stole a prescription pad from the hospital & wrote out her own prescription for narcs - incorrectly. She was caught by her local pharmacist & arrested. The hospital fired her that day & pressed charges. If they had their way, the nurse was going to lose her license & go to jail - & not get any help. Our union was able to negotiate with the hospital to drop the charges provided the RN entered our peer assistance program & rehab program for a year & stayed clean throughout & for a specified period of time after that. The peer assistance program gives her the opportunity to regain her license later upon extensive & ongoing review. The hospital had the right to terminate her - we did not dispute that - but at least, instead of just being fired & going to jail, she was going to get the help she needed & possibly be able to retain her livelihood. Without our union, none of that would have happened.

    To hear some people talk about us "protecting bad" nurses, it sounds like theyd be happy to have just kicked this nurse out the door & to hell with her & the bed she made for herself.
  5. by   Gomer
    Originally posted by -jt
    We try to have them give the RN a chance to improve and learn from the mistake, rather than just terminating her....What good does it do to just fire someone & have them continue their poor functioning in the next place - possibly putting the pts there at risk

    If they are fired for drugs or patient endangerment, hopefully they wont be hired by any other hospital. That's what reference checks/background checks are for.

    Some may feel what your union did was noble and in the spirit of caring, and perhaps it was. However I feel that it is just another example of unions holding on to the "bad apples". I have trouble defending anyone who abuses their position to maintain their (drug) habit. My opinion, she should have been fired and her license taken away.

    By the way, who paid for her rehab? The union? Or, the employer?
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    The California Board of Registered Nursing has an Enforcement Program to discipline nurses who are unsafe. This is up to and including removal of their license. There is a diversion program paid for by license fees whereby RNs are treated and evaluated for getting their license back.
    http://www.rn.ca.gov/divprgrm/diversprgrm.htm
    http://www.rn.ca.gov/enforce/enforce.htm

    Nurses have the best record on maintaining sobriety whether it be alcohol or drugs. I have worked with a couple fine nurses who had completed the program. They were so glad to have a job they helped everyone. After all they had no access to narcotics (even though it was an ETOH DUI arrest initially).
    To make up for needing another nurse to give pain, sedation, and sleeping medications they always offer to help pull patients up and so on.
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on May 24, '03
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by -jt [/i]

    I dont know why some people just cant understand that an RN union run for & by RNs, as yours & mine are, is not the same thing as what they imagine the big-bad unions to be. [/B][/QUOTE]
    Well management and even other unions tell people. "The union will make you go on strike."
    That would be so silly. If the nurses don't overwhelmingly want a strike they will cross the line.
    Union means unity. Nurses need that to protect and bring back safe patient care.
    I think a state nurses association is the best union. Still only as good as the commitment of the nurses.
    Some facilities have very good conditions. Others have either less active mambers, open shop with few members, or management that fights unfairly. Even in the latter situation the nurses make a big difference. See, I work registry so go to as many as 3 hospitals in one week.

    Oh for RNs in California. Good info from the BRN:
    http://www.rn.ca.gov/policies/policies.htm#RN
    http://www.rn.ca.gov/policies/pdf/npr-b-03.pdf
    http://www.rn.ca.gov/index.html
  8. by   fergus51
    Any person that says unions save the bad apples is making excuses for poor management. If a contract says a person must show up, be competent, etc. then management can fire them. If they are too scared of the union getting upset or filing a grievance to do its job then it is management at fault.
  9. by   Gomer
    Have to agree with you Fergus51. Poor management is what brings unions into a company. Too bad good nurses have to suffer at the hands of both.
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    I was totally supported by my state nurses association in reporting an incompetent RN to the BRN. Almost all of us on the night shift did.
    She had already been given a chance and quit when she was caught sleeping again.
    This nurse made up vital signs and urine output. She once charted for the entire 12 hour shift in the 3rd hour!
    I don't know whether her license was taken away or not, but the union did not try to protect her job.

    On the other hand a new grad agreed to float. She was overwhelmed and did not have sufficient resources to care for her patients. After telling the charge nurse, nurse manager, and house supervisor she did not know how to care for these patients she was told, "Do the best you can."
    Then she was written up as incompetent when she missed a medication when assisting a physician with a procedure.
    It was agreed in a meeting with management that as per the contract RNs would only float within their cluster and new grads would not float the first 6 months after passing boards. A resource nurse would be assigned and orientation would be provided before forcing a nurse to float to any unit.

    We kept a fine nurse because of the union. Now she is experienced and a relief charge nurse 4 years later.
  11. by   -jt
    <My opinion, she should have been fired and her license taken away.>

    She was fired & her license was taken away. But the license was taken away temporarily - until she goes thru the program & has a chance at rehabilitation & proves she is worthy of having her license returned and with what restrictions, if any.

    The difference between us is that it seems you would just leave it at fire her & take her license & forget about this person. Just throw her in the street cause shes a "bad apple"? So, what happens to that nurse then? Or do you not care, since she created the mess she made herself? As a union, we work to get the nurse the help she needs & the opportunity to win her license, life, and livelhood back. And yes, nurses helping nurses is rather noble. There should be more of that kind of compassion among us.


    <By the way, who paid for her rehab? The union? Or, the employer?>

    Neither. Since the state adopted our union's Nurse Peer Assistance program which we had developed for our members who might need it, it is now a state program by law & is available to any RN or LPN in all of NY. It receives state funding & works closely with the state board of nursing.

    She was fired - the employer, has no further involvement with her. Her being fired was not the issue. The issue we dealt with with them was to have them drop the arrest & not send her to jail, so we could send her directly into treatment. They agreed and she did not go to jail. She got help to turn her life around instead, is doing very well, and may eventually regain her license. Doesnt everyone deserve the chance? Apparently, according to you, no. Personally, I think they do.

    Contrary to what some think because she succumbed to easily available drugs, she is not a "bad nurse" or a "bad person" or a "bad apple". She was a woman in trouble and needed help getting herself & her life back on track. If non-union nurses want to say that RN unions are wrong for giving that help & are "protecting the bad nurse", so be it, but I feel sorry for other non-union nurses who might someday need the same kind of compassion from their peers as my union & our nurses have.

    SPAN (Statewide Peer Assistance for Nurses)
    http://www.nysna.org/programs/span/home.htm
    Last edit by -jt on May 24, '03
  12. by   fergus51
    Originally posted by Gomer
    Have to agree with you Fergus51. Poor management is what brings unions into a company. Too bad good nurses have to suffer at the hands of both.
    I meant that poor management is what keeps bad nurses in their jobs, not unions (though I do also think that unions are a response to poor management). I have worked mostly in union hospitals since I started nursing and have seen incompetent nurses fired. I have also seen incompetent nurses working in a non-union hospital. It is management's responsibility to ensure the nurses working are capable of providing adequate care to their patients and to say "Well, it's the union that keeps them here and poor management is stuck with them" is a big fat cop out. Incompetence is not a union-non-union issue.

    If nurses feel they are suffering under a bad union they should organize themselves and try to change the situation or leave or have their union dues directed elsewhere.
  13. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you Fergus:
    If the nurses really want to work at it they can get 30% of the staffs signatures on a petition or cards. Then the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will hold a legal election to decertify the union.
    This can be to elect another union or to just have no union.

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