Weird, but missing my old state's nurses union!

  1. 10
    I found myself back home to Ohio after a 1 1/2 year stent in California as an RN (and I was a regular FTE, not a traveler). The ICU I came from was a well-oiled machine and staff morale seemed to be pretty high. I lived in an area of California where the cost of living was VERY comparable to Ohio, yet nurses were paid upwards of $30/hr and staffing ratios were mandated. If our unit was short a nurse, they were required to fill the hole instead of having the nurses pick up the slack for 4+ hours until a replacement could be found. If we missed any or all of our breaks during the day, and the charge RN was aware, we filled out a form and got paid extra for missing a break/lunch. If we were made to work more than 12 hours in one shift, every hour over that was paid doubletime. In a nutshell, our union had everything to do with this and I was so happy to feel that someone had our backs.

    Now that I'm back to Ohio, staffing can be downright unsafe!! Nurses are frequently asked to stay an extra 4 hours because they couldn't find a nurse to fill a hole in staffing. Overtime for us is anything over 80 hours in a pay period.... Meaning, if I have to work an extra four hours each week, I get NO overtime. Basically, if I work one extra day a pay period, it is worthless.... I would only get overtime if I worked two or more shifts. I asked one of the nurses about how unfair this is, and she shrugged her shoulders and said they just "suck it up." Our management has hired tons of new grads to save money and seem to have their hands tied behind their backs most of the time, that they can't always do what's right for the nurses or our patients. We have nursing assistants, but we only get 1-2 to cover 30-something beds, so they're NEVER available when you need them. Not to mention, the pay difference is about 25-30% less in Ohio. There is no nurse's union to have my back and it feels like a nurse's destiny lies in the greedy hands of hospital administrators. Nurses here basically get crapped on and no one has the balls to stand up and fight back!!

    California has its problems, but my quality of work environment was the best I've seen, and I've worked for several hospitals in Ohio before moving out to CA.... but isn't there anything that can be done to make the work environment more healthy? Why hasn't anyone stood up and addressed this problem? Feedback??
    chevyv, momology, pseudomonas, and 7 others like this.
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  3. 28 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    Our staffing has been outrageous lately, too. The hospital brought in a productivity company a couple years back. They know nothing about healthcare, they are only concerned about numbers and money. So they only schedule so many nurses based on the average daily census. They don't take into account patient acuity, anticipated admits, or even new hires being oriented to the unit. We are supposed to take no more than two patients per nurse, but in our CCU at 11pm we are allowed two nurses for five patients. Tell me how that makes sense? They start us out a nurse short. If we get our sixth patient after 11pm then both nurses on the unit have three patients a piece. We do total care in our units, so no techs. Also, no secretaries after 11pm. So tell me how two nurses are supposed to answer the phones, put in orders, and provide total care for six potentially ventilated and sedated patients. The only saving grace that we have is our staff. Everyone is willing to sign up for extra days and come in extra at the last minute to help out the nurses on the schedule. Without our teamwork it'd be disastrous! I'm sorry there's not much more advice to give. We do just have to "suck it up" and work together to provide safe care to our patient's until someone somewhere decides it's a good idea to give us more nurses!
    andywolfe, anotherone, and lindarn like this.
  5. 1
    You dont need a union..you need a staff with a backbone. Many hospitals have nurse practice councils, staffing effectiveness groups, etc that must be used for good purpose. Track the days and problems on paper. Have your evidence and paper trail. Complaining among your coworkers doesnt get anything fixed. I am like the poster above where we run bare minimum staff with total patient care (we draw our own labs, baths, etc) and we do just fine. If we have to triple once and a while we work together. There are much worse things out there at other hospitals where you start tripled.

    Check into your state employment laws. Im not sure about Ohio, but in TX its overtime after 40hrs. So we are scheduled 3 12's and will get 8 hours of overtime if we worked a 4th day. It usually is more due to the fact we never work 12 hours it ends up being 12.5-13 depending on how long report takes. Im not sure why you need a tech with 2 patients most of the time. You cannot compare any California pay to most places in the US as they pay insanely high due to extreme costs of living. Also, you dump your money into the union from every paycheck. Also in California you pay state tax, sales tax, federal income tax, social security, medicare, etc. Im sure the difference in pay is made up by not paying the California insane tax.

    Oh, and to give you a little context, midwest states and states like Oklahoma have RN's making $17-18/hr. These nurses will triple all day long in ICU, take 7-8 on medsurg, 4-5 REAL PCU with cardiac drips. So make sure you think about it when you say how horrible your job is.
    lindarn likes this.
  6. 27
    Quote from 8mpg
    You dont need a union..you need a staff with a backbone. Many hospitals have nurse practice councils, staffing effectiveness groups, etc that must be used for good purpose. Track the days and problems on paper. Have your evidence and paper trail. Complaining among your coworkers doesnt get anything fixed. I am like the poster above where we run bare minimum staff with total patient care (we draw our own labs, baths, etc) and we do just fine. If we have to triple once and a while we work together. There are much worse things out there at other hospitals where you start tripled. Check into your state employment laws. Im not sure about Ohio, but in TX its overtime after 40hrs. So we are scheduled 3 12's and will get 8 hours of overtime if we worked a 4th day. It usually is more due to the fact we never work 12 hours it ends up being 12.5-13 depending on how long report takes. Im not sure why you need a tech with 2 patients most of the time. You cannot compare any California pay to most places in the US as they pay insanely high due to extreme costs of living. Also, you dump your money into the union from every paycheck. Also in California you pay state tax, sales tax, federal income tax, social security, medicare, etc. Im sure the difference in pay is made up by not paying the California insane tax.Oh, and to give you a little context, midwest states and states like Oklahoma have RN's making $17-18/hr. These nurses will triple all day long in ICU, take 7-8 on medsurg, 4-5 REAL PCU with cardiac drips. So make sure you think about it when you say how horrible your job is.
    I feel like nursing is becoming a contest of who can tolerate the most deplorable conditions without accidently hurting a patient. Just because things are worse in another state doesn't make poor working conditions ok in the OP's state. I feel bad for both of you!
    annlewis, GradyGramNot, karenesn, and 24 others like this.
  7. 5
    To 8mpg

    I am an RN from CA and I am currently working in the state of Texas. Last time I checked my paycheck stub from a hospital in Texas does have federal income tax, social security tax, medicare tax. I also pay around 8.75% sales tax on items I buy at stores. A gallon of milk cost about $4.00 here in TX; while, it only cost about $3.00 in CA and sometime even $2.00. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive here than what I am used to paying in Riverside, CA. Gas is cheaper here in Texas by about $1.00/per gallon and also in Texas they don't have any state income tax. However, as a nurse in the state of Texas, I am earning at least $16,000-$24,000.00 less each year. When I calculate how much I save with gas and income tax, I am still worst off as an RN in TX, so this myth of Insane CA taxes doesn't hold when you examine the facts more carefully.
    Psychtrish39, KelRN215, anotherone, and 2 others like this.
  8. 11
    Things will only change when nurses get over their irrational aversion to unions so we can all take advantage of the perks being unionized has given to our colleagues in California and other union states.
    Ruby Vee, GradyGramNot, noyesno, and 8 others like this.
  9. 4
    Hi, I have not even started nursing school, but during and after getting my first bachelors I worked for nearly five years in a grocery store.

    Why, whenever I read personal accounts from real nurses on what nursing is really like, nursing sounds incredibly a lot like working in retail except with a whole, whole lot more training required (obviously) and with human lives on the line?
  10. 0
    Quote from andywolfe
    To 8mpg

    I am an RN from CA and I am currently working in the state of Texas. Last time I checked my paycheck stub from a hospital in Texas does have federal income tax, social security tax, medicare tax. I also pay around 8.75% sales tax on items I buy at stores. A gallon of milk cost about $4.00 here in TX; while, it only cost about $3.00 in CA and sometime even $2.00. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive here than what I am used to paying in Riverside, CA. Gas is cheaper here in Texas by about $1.00/per gallon and also in Texas they don't have any state income tax. However, as a nurse in the state of Texas, I am earning at least $16,000-$24,000.00 less each year. When I calculate how much I save with gas and income tax, I am still worst off as an RN in TX, so this myth of Insane CA taxes doesn't hold when you examine the facts more carefully.
    Im sorry you feel that way. I work with 3 nurses from California in my small ICU and they all say they are much better off here. One gal just moved here and said she paid $10k in state taxes last year on top of all the FICA, SS, Medicare, etc PLUS sales tax. Her take home income was around the 50% mark after all deductions including union dues. Im not sure where you are in Texas but a gallon of milk is no where near $4 a gallon. Im payin $2.50. Parts of california just topped $5 per gallon if you didnt see that in the newspaper where the state government switched early to winter grade fuel to make it cheaper. I just paid $3.35/gal. Also, when houses are soooo expensive in California they entertain 60 year mortgages and interest only mortgages, this is not something done in Texas due to the low cost of living.

    Yes, we have the same basic federally mandated taxes. We do have sales tax but we do not pay property tax on top of it. Paying state tax and 9.75% sales tax in California can eat you up.
  11. 10
    Quote from wooh
    Things will only change when nurses get over their irrational aversion to unions so we can all take advantage of the perks being unionized has given to our colleagues in California and other union states.
    I highly doubt that this will happen in my lifetime. At this moment in time and for foreseeable future, public seems to be really against Unions. I admit there are certain things that are wrong with some unions; however, overall the unions are good for workers, communities and country. The general public is irrationally blaming the unions for the problems that have occurred with our economy rather than placing the blame on the corporations and CEO's. They are shooting themselves on their own feet by not reforming the pay structure of CEO's while simultaneously decreasing the power of unions!!!!!
    GradyGramNot, Prac, momology, and 7 others like this.
  12. 0
    Quote from 8mpg
    Im sorry you feel that way. I work with 3 nurses from California in my small ICU and they all say they are much better off here. One gal just moved here and said she paid $10k in state taxes last year on top of all the FICA, SS, Medicare, etc PLUS sales tax. Her take home income was around the 50% mark after all deductions including union dues. Im not sure where you are in Texas but a gallon of milk is no where near $4 a gallon. Im payin $2.50. Parts of california just topped $5 per gallon if you didnt see that in the newspaper where the state government switched early to winter grade fuel to make it cheaper. I just paid $3.35/gal. Also, when houses are soooo expensive in California they entertain 60 year mortgages and interest only mortgages, this is not something done in Texas due to the low cost of living.

    Yes, we have the same basic federally mandated taxes. We do have sales tax but we do not pay property tax on top of it. Paying state tax and 9.75% sales tax in California can eat you up.
    Before writing something you may want to do some research about the subject at hand. Homeowners in Texas do have to pay property Taxes. Here is the link to it. Property taxes in Texas
    And here is a direct quote from the web site
    “Property taxes are a significant part of the overall cost of owning a home in Texas. The state has no income tax, so property taxes carry a heavy load when it comes to funding public-school, city, and county budgets.”
    Only a handful of cities in California have a 9.75% sales tax. 90%-95% is between 7.75%-8.75% which is comparable to what we have in Texas. Here is the link to the taxes for each city in CA.
    California City and County Sales and Use Tax Rates - Cities, Counties and Tax Rates - California State Board of Equalization
    Houses are expensive on the coast but inland cities like Sacramento, Fairfield, Riverside, Fresno areas have houses that are decently priced. They aren’t as cheap as houses in Texas; but, they aren’t as expensive either.


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