Is this any way to retain nurses? - page 2

Soooo..... We've been unionized with our state nurses assoc since 1983, with significant monetary and professional standard contract gains ever since, and once again are in negotiations with the... Read More

  1. by   Gomer
    Thanks for the explanation -jt. But I think if you look at contract negotiation on the big picture, everything is re-negotiable since either side can bring up as many changes as they want. And, consider yourself very lucky not to have to pay for health insurance. Most hospitals in my area give the employee only the minimum coverage (HMO). If you want a PPO or POS or family coverage you must pay extra (out of your own pocket).
  2. by   -jt
    <consider yourself very lucky not to have to pay for health insurance.>

    It had nothing to do with luck, gomer. It was a damn hard fight that union nurses in my city began 40 yrs ago and won - making free healthcare benefits a professional standard. Some even went on strike to achieve that. We dont pay for our & our families healthcare benefits, and we have the determination of union nurses to thank for that.

    Luck had nothing to do with it.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 7, '03
  3. by   -jt
    sooooo back to my initial question.....

    Is it just us, or does anyone else get the impression that this hospital is doing all it can to drive our nurses out of their jobs???......
  4. by   roxannekkb
    I've said it before and I'll say it again; there is NO shortage of nurses, only of tolerable places to work. And I think some hospitals are not interested in keeping RNs. They are looking at the bottom line only, which is cheap help. Either they are happy with a constant stream of new grads, who they can provide minimum benefits for, lower pay, and as you say, not vest for 5 years...or they are looking to have minimum RN staffing and replace RNs with aides and other less expensive help...or they are looking to fill the slots with foreign nurses--who they can pay less, work OT without paying for it, and treat anyway they want to. The nurses are bound by a contract usually, and if they quit, they will probably have to pay back money and be sent home. So at least until they get a green card, the foreign nurses are a hospital's dream.



    Keep us posted jt. Sounds like you've got a good group of nurses there who are willing to stand up for themselves and not be bullied by management.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Originally posted by -jt
    sooooo back to my initial question.....

    Is it just us, or does anyone else get the impression that this hospital is doing all it can to drive our nurses out of their jobs???......
    BINGO. I would have to agree based on all I have read here. It's a sorry way to treat the backbone of the business---the literal bread-and-butter of their existance. Disgusting.
  6. by   ainz
    This story illustrates my point very well. If we (nursing) rely on labor unions or nursing unions or any kind of union, it only reinforces and perpetuates the notion that we are common hourly manual labor, a line item expense that must be controlled. We may need unions for the short term but that is not the answer. We must unite, become active in the political system to get laws changed that will recognize the contribution and value of a professional RN. We must also understand the environment we are working in and the people (administrative types) that we are working with. Economics and money is the bottom line. If revenue does not exceed expenses, your doors will close, you will be out of business, and no one will have a job at that place of business, hospital or otherwise. Instead of setting an adversarial situation with a labor union, why not acknowledge the issues that administration has and demonstrate how nursing can help them solve those problems. Why not focus on what we bring to the healthcare system, what our contribution is to the outcome of patients, how we help the hospital. Bickering and demanding things from administration does not work, will not work, and only makes things worse. I have read comment after comment here from nurses that "administration" is not interested in good patient care and only interested in money. I don't think that is exactly true. In any business, to be successful, the first thing you must have is a quality product that people want and will come back for because you did such a great job. Administrators know this very well. Sure they will ALWAYS look for the cheapest way to deliver the product. It should be the job of nursing to demonstrate how nurses help keep the product very high quality and contribute to customer satisfaction. Everyone knows (even administrators) that you get what you pay for. So instead of petty bickering over some contract, why not stand up and look for ways to create a win-win situation, demonstrate with quantitative data how nurses help the hospital improve itself and deliver high quality care that people will return for, show how nurses GENERATE revenue not consume resources. Everyone wants the $$$, even nurses, we all want higher wages, better benefits etc. We need nurses to assume positions of authority and decision-making in hospital administration. It is easy to criticize when you do not have all of the data and facts. We need to know the facts and get the data and show that we are all on the same team working for the same goal--good patient care, good patient outcomes, good place to work, and everyone making a good living!!!!!!
  7. by   911fltrn
    One company U.H.S. per their own literature made a 2 billion 800 million dollar profit last year and says it cant afford to pay its nurses more.
    I'm sick of being jerked around in such matters. My humble opinion is screw them and talk with your feet walking!
  8. by   -jt
    <Instead of setting an adversarial situation with a labor union, why not acknowledge the issues that administration has and demonstrate how nursing can help them solve those problems. Why not focus on what we bring to the healthcare system, what our contribution is to the outcome of patients, how we help the hospital.>

    What adversarial situation? We've been part of a professional RN union for 20 years. Its nothing new to them. There is no third party. Forget any preconceived Jimmy Hoffa-type notions that people might have about "the union". Its the staff nurses sitting there. WE are "the union". We walked in and were told they want to retain nurses - and then they handed us a list of things that are going to make nurses run to the next facility. What do you think we are doing anyway??? We present facts, charts, & data that show how nurses make a difference & how it is more cost effective in the long run to have adequate staffing. We HAVE said all the things you mention and done all that and it has made no difference. You see what the corporation VPs response was - "we're not going to lose in business (meaning theyre not going to lose profit) just for some RNs". So who is creating the adversarial situation?

    In a past crisis, we voluntarily offered to freeze our own wages for 2 years to help the hospital out of a finanical crunch. Every one of 600 RNs gave that hospital $2400 to help it. $2,400 x 600 RNs is how much? The hospital didnt think of that or demand it. WE came up with that idea ourselves & offered it because the crisis was real. We have not been "adversarial". We have always looked for ways to work with the hospital. Thats the point. The attitude of hospital administrators spitting on nurses is undeserved, especially at the same time they cry that they cant find nurses.

    Sitting on our side of the negotiating table are 7 staff nurses that the rest of our staff nurses elected to speak for them, an RN who is also a labor specialist and acts as our advisor. And our lawyer, who takes direction from us. Its basically just us - the staff RNs and the HR adminstration. So whats the difference between that and your suggestion of just talking to management? Thats what negotiations is - talking to management and proving your point. And still the hospital treats us this way. The only difference in us being a union is that the employer is OBLIGATED by law to sit down & talk to the nurses & get our permission for anything it wants to change.

    If we werent a union, they would not have to do that, would not have to ask our permission to do any of the things they want, and would have already inflicted it all upon us. We could talk till we're blue in the face & it would get us nowhere. If they are treating us this way WITH union labor laws behind us, how do you think this particular administration would be treating us if we did not have even that bit of protection? But this wasnt meant to be a discussion about unions.

    BTW, our fearless nursing leaders sit on adminsitrations side of the table and have been SILENT about pt care and the things that affect it - like unsafe staffing. HR, who doesnt know a thing about pt care, is making their decisions for them.

    We dont need the hospitals actuarial facts to know that my hospital is losing nurses to other area facilities because it is persisting in unacceptable working conditions that the hospitals down the street and around the corner do not condone and that those other neighborhood hospitals now dont have such a shortage of nurses anymore. We dont need their data to know that it is a contradiction to say that you are sincere about having "a committment to nurses" and then demand give-backs from experienced nurses to be used to entice new grads into these same unacceptable working conditions with sign on bonuses. Or to offer less in compensation, working conditions, and benefits than other hospitals in the area are offering. Or to tell new hires that they dont deserve the same in benefits as others.

    How could the focus be on recruiting and retaining if nurses find everything better at other facilities in the area? Whats the incentive to take a job at my hospital or to keep it? Who is going to want to work at this one when conditions, hours, salary, pension, benefits, staffing, and support services are better at the hospital down the street?

    We dont need to be rocket scientists to see that its pure BS to say your focus is "nurse retention" and then try to implement policies like unrestricted floating to areas we are not qualified to work in, unlimited mandatory ot, and overwhelmingly unsafe staffing ratios. With these things, there is no good patient care, good patient outcomes, or good place to work. All that will just make more nurses bolt out the door and keep others away. So, sorry but I disagree with you - those issues are not "petty" in the least. And its particularly outrageous for a hospital to be making these kinds of demands in this climate when these are exactly the things that nurses are saying are the reasons why they wont work in hospitals today. If you can give me one idea that will move my administration to realize that, Id be happy to use it tomorrow and let you know how it works out.

    We're begining to believe that they really dont want to attract new nurses and would like to see most of the nurses it does have leave. All the recent news articles have not made a dent with this administration. Our own "demonstrating with quantitative data how nurses help the hospital improve itself and deliver high quality care that people will return for, showing how nurses generate revenue, not consume resources, acknowledging the issues that administration has and demonstrating how nursing can help them solve those problems, focusing on what we bring to the healthcare system, what our contribution is to the outcome of patients, and how we help the hospital" has been done and continues to be, but has had no effect on them so far.

    In 20 yrs of negotiating our own contracts, we've been through this kind of thing before. Even worse. We'll get thru it again. A lot of it is just posturing. Im just so livid that they would dare to even attempt this kind of thing and perpetuate this kind of atmosphere in todays shortage of bedside nurses.

    If you want a certain product that is in short supply, you woo the supplier, right? (in this case nurses are both product and supplier). You up the ante for the needed product and make the best bid over all the others that also want that product. If there was a shortage of IV tubing, my hospital wouldnt blink twice to give the IV tubing supplier anything he wanted for his supply of tubing. Theyd say "Whatever the next hospital is offering you, Mr. Supplier, we'll offer you better. We need that tubing or we wont have a business. We'll do whatever it takes to get your product". But it looks like my hospital thinks that the rules of supply and demand dont apply when the product is nurses.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 7, '03
  9. by   JulieBean2U
    I was honestly amazed at the list of benefits you and the union nurses before you have negotiated, jt. And I think as professionals you deserve every darn one of them. Administrations have repeatedly turned a blind eye to the bottom line of health care. It is NOT money! Money is the first thing to go when a quality product is not provided on a consistent basis. The bottom line is therefore PROVIDING A QUALITY PRODUCT. And if you will excuse the labeling, we, as RNs, are the product. Healthcare cannot phase nurses out and continue to be "healthcare" as we are the backbone-the ones who look out for the patient's well-being from start to finish. But let's not get onto that tangent... I live in the Midwest and generally work in Nebraska as an agency nurse. The regular jobs I've had in no way have provided anything close to good benefits. The least I've ever paid for health insurance is $ 210 per month. My husband, before he met me, thought that all nurses received free health care. He was shocked when I informed him differently. Compared it to paying for a pop when working at Taco Bell! What a lovely thought. Retirement plans are usually 401k, which we've realized are vulnerable, given the slipping profits in the last few years. Most places require 3 years to be vested. Staffing is so bad that staying at one place for 3 years is becoming physically and emotionally impossible. Many places have the PTO vacation plans, and no seperate sick days. Sick calls are points added up against the employee, resulting in write-ups and termination. That's about it for benefits! There are no written standards for anything else like you described, jt. Nurses are at the mercy of others in almost every aspect of the care they try to give. There were votes about implementing unionization in Nebraska several years ago, and the fuss it caused was hilarious. Letters from management circulated wildly, announcing the "hidden" agendas of the union, how they would ruin healthcare and nursing. The union was not voted in, and things have continued in the sad state they have always been. Nurses in the Midwest need to get past the handmaiden state of mind, and realize that what we do is a PROFESSION, not "down-home tendin' and carin'." Midwest nurses will hopefully not take offense-I'm one myself, born and bred in Iowa. I'm just trying to illistrate that the care we provide is Universal, and it's time we respect our work enough to have the same requirements for benefits. I doubt that our voices will fall on anything but deaf ears without a union to amplify it! The corporations who own the major Midwest health systems have had it awful good for a long time. I think it's about time they get a little jolt. By the way, nurses; I have been looking around for a permanent job. The paper had job listings yesterday for one of the major hospitals. Want to know what they are offering for an experienced ICU RN to start? $15.25 + experience. I haven't made that little since I was a graduate nurse. WHEW! Thanks for listening, jt, and hang tough!
  10. by   OC_An Khe
    -jt
    You just have to remind them NO NURSES = NO HOSPITAL
    Have they changed lawyers or has the hospital board changed significantly since your last negotiation?
    Comminity campaigns and political pressure works. And plenty of local publicity.This where you need to start on an external level. Internally you need to be in close communications with your members to insure their agreement and continued support of your positions. Don't take their support for granted.
    Try to discern what the hospitals key issues really are? Some level of contrbution to benefit cost, lengthening vesting to that allowed by federal regulation, what give backs are they truly looking for and what are they willing to pay for them?
    You are in for a fight but who from the Apple is afraid of one?
    Last edit by OC_An Khe on Jul 7, '03
  11. by   angelbear
    I dont work for a unionized facility and boy do I regret it. Mine is suppose to be a privately owned christian run facility. Conjures up images all warm and fuzzy doesnt it. Well forget about it it aint reality. Just wanted to say without a union it is very true they pretty much do what they want to to you and they can get away with it. Mine is not only not unionized but I live in a right to work state. Apparently that means not only can they treat you like doodoo but they can then fire you without cause. Starting to hit pretty close to home for my comfort. Good luck in your negotiations.
  12. by   mother/babyRN
    Hospitals don't care about nurses. They care about bodies to take care of patients, who are reasonably intelligent in order to avoid lawsuits. They don't want unions to be active let alone present because that impacts on their ability to boss people around and give them the least of all benefits. I have been around long enough so nothing surprises me...When we have continued to keep the union active and working, the benefits far outweigh the bad things, however badly they are treated it is best for nurses to not take things management throws out personally...Have to treat it like a business and demand the respect you deserve...They certainly don't care. It is all about money and how much they can save to pay themselves coupled with how much they can take away from you (us)...
  13. by   Milehighnurse
    "So instead of petty bickering over some contract, why not stand up and look for ways to create a win-win situation, demonstrate with quantitative data how nurses help the hospital improve itself and deliver high quality care that people will return for, show how nurses GENERATE revenue not consume resources...." (ainz)

    I believe that answer should be painstaking clear to all administrators. If your hospital doors are still open we ARE generating revenue. Nurse are constantly told that we are the largest cost center of the hospital and therefore it is understandable why that's where cuts are being made. What they fail to realize is that we are THE largest revenue generators. The brass tacks of it all, hospitals sell nursing services and without us they don't have a business. Adminsitration knows this, nurses are begining to learn this, henceforth, changes are coming as we learn that we no longer have to put up with unsafe conditions and there are ways to deal with this problem. Striking is not something anyone wants to do, nurses included, HOWEVER, by the time a strike is imminent, it means that we have already gone to adminsitration with suggestions...etc and they refuse to listen. Problem with that choice is that nurses aren't backing down anymore, we're learning to play hardball. I had a good friend of mine, who is also an employment attorney tell me one time that "all these places understand is a baseball bat to the temples." Tis so true, unfortunate, but true.

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