Is this any way to retain nurses? - page 5

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   NotReady4PrimeTime
    jt, here in Alberta, we're facing a similar impasse in negotiations. Because we have socialized medicine, we have a single payor and in provinces like ours, we have regional health authorities who are the single employer. Our health care system is administered by the province at the top end.

    Our contract expired on March 31. Negotiations began in January, with each party presenting their versions of changes to the contract. They were miles apart. Management wanted to institute over 30 roll-backs, including changing the hours of work so we would be paid for fewer minutes per shift while still putting in the same amount of time. They want to decrease the ratio of days to nights for shift workers. They want the power to dictate employees to permanent nights, permanent evenings or nights/evenings. They aren't happy with having us float unit-to-unit, they want us to float between facilities (after all, we work for the region, not the facility... ) as well as region-wide. To make this easier, they want to redefine "unit" to mean anything they think will work, could be that a unit is the whole region! On top of that they want to be able to move a nurse from one facility to another permanently, within 100 km (62 miles) of their original unit, with no limit on how many of these moves they can inflict on an individual. Some of our regions extend from one border to the other, so a progressive shift east-to-west is possible with the nurse ending up hundreds of miles from home.

    They want to eliminate the requirement for a RN/RPN to be "in charge" of a unit. Some areas can be adequately managed by an RT, a social worker or a physiotherapist, they say. Nor would they have to pay an "in charge" premium to anyone. They want to change the definition of 'weekend" to decrease the number of hours off as well as the number of hours they pay shift premiums for. They want to pay part time nurses straight time for mandatory OT. They want to assign vacations and to eliminate the seniority implications from vacation scheduling. There are other clauses too wordy to include here without sending you all into a coma! :zzzzz

    Then there are the hits to our benefits. They want part-time nurses to pay more for their portion of benefits costs. They want part time nurses working less than 40% FTE to have no supplementary benefits such as dental and eye care. The list goes on and on.

    A number of their changes include a flagrant attack on the our rights to act collectivley. They want to be able to negotiate with individuals and make side deals outside the contract. They want to extend the time taken to resolve grievances with no requirement for union representation of the grieving party, and to increase the window for disciplinary action, ie to weeks or months after an infraction. They also want to limit the union's ability to protect members from occupational health and safety hazards and professional liabilities.

    After some time at the table without any real meeting of the minds, the province ordered the matter to mediation. The mediator was selected by the health minister, who is also the top dog of the management team. At the same time, a gag order was placed on the proceedings, so we cannot elicit the support of the public without violating the order. The mediator submitted the first part of his recommendations recently and guess what... he's recommending that the employer's package be accepted almost unchanged, while ignoring the union's views on everything. Go figure. His recommendations are totally unacceptable to every nurse who has seen them. Striking is not a viable option because nurses cannot strike legally in Alberta. Things are going to get ugly here. You watch. :angryfire:
  2. by   nimbex
    No nurse, young or old is of value any longer in my facility, never was this way prior to this year, when the CEO's large bonuses grow by the financial stability of the facility.

    Won't close beds, taking away perks, OT bonus, working you unsafely, then sending out the natzi's to hound you, your every move if you dare to file a complaint. Refusal to close beds. I work with 4 other nurses, the second most senior has 2 years in, the other two are BRAND NEW plus we have one slot open.

    So I am short staffed, with half of my staff brand spanking new, patients dying, meds missed, no mentoring to the new staff because I'm watching all 10 patients, the 3 that I'm legally liable for, plus the 7 other I'm morally liable for. NO ONE CARES. The staff is too exhausted to fight, they just give up and eventually leave.

    Management talks a beautiful speach about shared leadership, committes, on and on...... only because they wish Magnet status.

    No results from the staff are occurring, we're getting stone walled from every angle and turn.

    This IS NOT a union issue, jt's problem is nation wide, it is the reason for our shortage.

    Until John Q public gets outraged from high insurance premiums with poor and substandard hospital care and speaks up demanding better, it won't change.

    Where is AARP?? One of the nations biggest lobby's, the elderly are suffering in hospitals due to mistakes, short staffing, waiting long amounts of time for basic nursing.... have they spoken up??

    our 'coustomers" need to form a collective bargining unit and demand better from hospital administrations nation wide. Then....

    Heck, Mc Donalds screws up our order and we'll demand the manager and complain.... why is the public quiet about their healthcare???

    Perhaps looking at this as nursings SOLE responsibility to fix, is a view from the wrong angle.... IMHO
  3. by   -jt
    <<The mediator was selected by the health minister, who is also the top dog of the management team. At the same time, a gag order was placed on the proceedings, so we cannot elicit the support of the public without violating the order. The mediator submitted the first part of his recommendations recently and guess what... he's recommending that the employer's package be accepted almost unchanged, while ignoring the union's views on everything. Go figure. His recommendations are totally unacceptable to every nurse who has seen them. Striking is not a viable option because nurses cannot strike legally in Alberta. >>

    If the mediator insists you accept those terms, every RN in that region should just resign en mass on the same day. Wake them up to the public health crisis they are causing by treating RNs like hired hands.
  4. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    The final mediator's report was presented to both sides last week. It continued in the same vein as the first installment. Not one of the union's proposals was given more than a cursory glance. The vast majority of the Provincial Health Authorities of Alberta's proposals were approved of with no or only minor changes. The mediator had no problem trashing the "superior provisions" angle of amalgamating a number of contracts into a province wide one. He also had no qualms over trampling individual rights by agreeing the PHAA should be allowed to dictate permanent nights and assign vacations. And he didn't hesitate to agree wholeheartedly with the mobility issues.

    United Nurses of Alberta Negotiations Update:
    "The mediator has strongly stated that his recommendations constitute the most likely outcome should the parties go to compulsory arbitration--a process where all outstanding bargaining issues are determined by an outside party appointed by the Alberta government. This is a confirmation that proceeding to arbitration would NOT be in the interest of the nurses of Alberta."

    Because we got a big raise in our last negotiations, many nurses are afraid the public will pay attention only to the money and ignore the working conditions, and thus not support us should we go out on an illegal strike. They are very much afraid we will be legislated back to work with a legislated contract, collective and personal fines and perhaps criminal records. The premier, Ralph Klein, has already made statements to the effect that should we strike, we have that to look forward to. The government will use all avenues available to them to punish us.

    The mass resignation ploy was tried in Nova Scotia last year. The employers simply refused to accept the resignations, the nurses were legislated back to work and they got stuck with a dog of a contract. In Alberta, the Labour Relations Law considers any job action undertaken by two or more persons to be strike action. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. Life could get very difficult for all of us here in Alberta very soon.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    This is half serious:
    Tell them you are going to work in California.
    We would love to have you!

    100% serious is the need to inform the public of how important nursing care is. Are patients admitted to a hospital for anything other than the need for NURSING care?
  6. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    There are already a large number of Canadian nurses woking in the States, either as travellers or as permanent implants. Somehow I doubt that threat would mean much. After the last big raise we got, nurses flocked here from all over Canada. They think the nursing shortage is over now based on recruitment numbers. They never look at the retention side of it.

    And you're 100% right. People go into hospital for nursing care. The need for nursing care is what keeps them there. I've already written to the local papers (now that the publication ban has been lifted ) pointing out how the mobility clause would impact on patient care. I used our world-renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon as an example of how unfair it is to nurses. No one would ever expect him to deliver babies on his slow days. Why should our specialized skills be any less valued? My letter appeared in today's Edmonton Journal (with a few minor editorial changes ) alongside another decrying the assault on part time nurses. At least now we can get our views heard!
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by janfrn
    I've already written to the local papers (now that the publication ban has been lifted ) pointing out how the mobility clause would impact on patient care. I used our world-renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon as an example of how unfair it is to nurses. No one would ever expect him to deliver babies on his slow days. Why should our specialized skills be any less valued? My letter appeared in today's Edmonton Journal (with a few minor editorial changes ) alongside another decrying the assault on part time nurses. At least now we can get our views heard!
    Good for you!
    Best wishes to all you nurses and your patients!
  8. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    Thanks. I'll keep the board posted on developments as they occur.
  9. by   -jt
    <They aren't happy with having us float unit-to-unit, they want us to float between facilities (after all, we work for the region, not the facility... ) as well as region-wide. To make this easier, they want to redefine "unit" to mean anything they think will work, could be that a unit is the whole region! On top of that they want to be able to move a nurse from one facility to another permanently, within 100 km (62 miles) of their original unit, with no limit on how many of these moves they can inflict on an individual. Some of our regions extend from one border to the other, so a progressive shift east-to-west is possible with the nurse ending up hundreds of miles from home>


    How could anybody in their right mind think this is feasible? Who is going to take a job like that? Id love to know what responses you get from the public when you ask them if they think this a safe or fair thing to do to you or how many nurses they think will continue working if this is allowed. And who they think is going to take care of them in the hospital and what kind of care they will get if they allow it?
  10. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    -jt, because we had a gag order for so long, the whole nursing contract issue has been more or less forgotten by the public. The gag order was only lifted on Monday, and we're starting to get the word out. My non-nursing friends are very alarmed by the thought of this mobility clause and its implications. They also don't like the idea that we could be arbitrarily forced to work permanent nights.

    There is so much rhetoric floating around it isn't funny. And some nurses who have read the mediator's document are saying it doesn't sound as bad as the union is making it out to be. From what I can gather, the mediator is making a lot of interpretation of what PHAA is saying in their proposals without being really sure his assumptions are right. The proposals are deliberately vague on the details. The union is taking the worst-case scenario from each of them because we don't have the luxury of feeling confident that PHAA is a benevolent group looking out for patients and nurses. We've seen all too often that the opposite is true.

    Recently the government announced that it was going to boost the per diem cost (paid by the individual) for nursing home care by 40% on September 1. The government pays for the medical part of nursing home care... we all know how many "nursing" hours those folks get in a day... and charge the client for housekeeping, linen service, meals and incidentals. Over the last few years they've delisted a number of essentials from senior citizens' benefits. They used to be covered by Blue Cross for those expenses not otherwise covered by the province, and now they're not. So if they can make such cavalier changes to provisions for our parents and grandparents, who built this province and made it the wonderful place it should be, why would we think they have any intention of caring about nurses or patients?

    What I and my union siblings foresee happening is that the young nurses will vote with their feet, taking jobs south of the border ("If I'm gonna get treated like $#!+, at least I'm gonna get paid for it!") or do advanced degrees so they can work for insurance companies and equipment manufacturers, and the older on-the-cusp nurses will simply retire. Those of us with few options will stay and slowly burn out. Many will leave nursing altogether and we'll be in even worse shape.

    We are voting on the mediator's recommendations in September. Our hope is that we will get a good turnout and the vote will be a resounding "Up your kilt!!". Wish us luck!
  11. by   ainz
    Reply to gojack

    Silly excuses for siding with management?
    Pro-company nurse subconsciously siding with management as a self-defense?
    Premise based on nonsense; too funny for words?

    I am pro-nursing to the core. I have little "RNs" floating in my blood. After experiencing the kind of crap from management that I received in just a few short years as a staff nurse and getting no help at all from my local or national nursing association, I decided to go into administration to be in a position to try and bring about some change. Even if just a little in one hospital, but some kind of change that valued what RNs do.

    I was not liked by management, and I mean primarily nursing management. I was sick of listening to petty bickering over meaningless crap while our department and unit was being run over with cost cutting measures, reducing our staff, forcing us to use cheap, poor quality supplies in order to save a few bucks. I was outspoken and didn't just sit there with my mouth shut.

    During my time in administration I have observed, listened, and learned many things about the "administration" perspective. I find your remarks to me about being a pro-company nurse and siding with management as a subconscious self-defense to be absolutely ridiculous and highly offensive.

    After being the chief operating officer and chief executive officer of hospitals, in the for-profit arena, I understand fully what these guys are about. I understand fully what they will listen to, how to approach them, and how to sell them on ideas. Learning to do that effectively is part of my job. I have some information that I think nurses can use in our struggle to deal with profit-driven, hard-nosed business people. These guys are about making their numbers, getting their bonuses, and their corporate bosses are about the same thing but have to satisfy the Wall Street analysts whose commentary and recommendations greatly affect the stock price. The stock price is one of the key measures of a corporate executive's effectiveness and the people (many of whom are employees of the company) who own stock in the company want a return on their investment. If you are in your company's 401k or have money in the stock market, you know what I am talking about.

    There are ways to approach these guys that will immediately inflame them and you will get NOWHERE very quickly. In my years as an administrator I have listened to several nursing proposals from the CNO and others. Much of the time the nurses come in without being able to answer key questions that administrators are going to ask. It makes the nurses look like they don't understand the business side and don't understand or realize how what they are asking for is going to impact the numbers. It may mean nothing to the nurses, but it means a heck of a lot to a guy that has tens of thousands of dollars worth of bonus riding on these kinds of decisions. I am not siding with management or saying management is right, or wrong, just saying this is how it is, this is what you are dealing with. We need to learn effective ways to get our message across. Coming out blazing with both barrels is sure to inflame these guys and immediately cut off any communication and hope of coming to some kind of agreement. Nurses need to understand the environment we are working in and what motivates management to do what they are doing. Yes, it is money and profit, but it is not just that simple, not just that black and white when it comes to trying to persuade them to do certain things. And the fact is, these are the people nurses are going to have to persuade!! Nurses have not been able to effectively do this because we are speaking two different languages and focused on two different things.

    As for my premise of utter nonsense that is too funny for words. See if you can comprehend what I am saying. The occupation of nursing needs to move in a more professional direction. We need to conduct ourselves as mature, educated, professionals while we are on the job. We need to define what we do so that it is understood that it is professional work. We need to be compensated as professionals are compensated. When I say professional, I mean autonomous, broadly and liberally educated, self-regulating, professionals who provide services that requires higher education and highly skilled persons that engage in dealing with complex issues that are sometimes not "black and white." We are not merely people who follow doctors orders and do task oriented labor, or are we? Being paid by the hour and being organized in the fashion that most nursing department are organized in, gives us the flavor of blue-collar employees. So we have the characteristics of blue-collar workers and we are treated as such. When things are not going our way then we react like blue-collar workers. When being run over by greedy administrations we feel, and are, powerless to do anything about it because we are not organized as professionals and do not see ourselves as such with the clout and strength in numbers to get what we want. So many turn to a third party or organize themselves in the fashion of a labor union and engage in "management versus laborer" type activities while trying to achieve some kind of resolution. It moves us away from a true, autonomous, professional model of nursing. It also sets us up immediately as adversaries and we each have "sides." There is no we, there is no team, there is no cooperation in trying to find ways that everyone wins something and can live with. Nurses say management doesn't care about their point of view, is greedy, is deliberately trying to drive away experienced nurses, is compromising patient care for the sake of a dollar. Administration is saying that nurses don't care about their point of view, don't understand or appreciate financial issues, are compromising the financial integrity of the business in the name of patient care, of which they cannot prove and lack the credible data to back it up. Nurses want and want and want but offer nothing in return to the organization other than to say we will stay rather than quit, you need us and can't run this hospital without us. Nurses come across as morally superior and ethically arrogant, as if no one else is worried about good patient care, as if no one but a nurse has the morals and ethics to really care about patients, that no one but a nurse can truly understand. Administration finds this highly offensive just as nurses find administration's word and actions highly offensive. Unfortunately, administration usually has the upper hand.

    I am not taking sides, I am sharing with you my observations and what I have learned to hopefully give some insight.

    It is a crummy system with many flaws but it is where we are today and it is the environment we have to work with.
  12. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    In recent days, both the Provincial Health Authorities Association and the United Nurses of Alberta issued summaries of the mediator's recommendations. In many articles they bore no resemblance to each other, because of course each side will put their own spin on things to make their version look good. PHAA has also begun running print ads containing their vision of the issues. Naturally they are somewhat misleading, using very deceptive language to describe their desired goals.

    I read the entire mediator's report (93 pages) and came to the conclusion that the Union's version is closest to accurate. The Union has called a membership vote on the mediator's recommendations for September 15, and are gearing up to inform members so they can vote with a better understanding of the issues. It would have been helpful had the mediator had a better understanding of the issues... he stated in several instances that he didn't understand the Union's stance on items pertaining to working conditions and scheduling. He quoted numerous reports indicating nurses need some control over their work lives and deserve respect, then turned around and ignored their recommendations completely.

    Meanwhile it was announced late yesterday that both sides have agreed to go back to the table in the next week or so. I hope this means that both sides are willing to really talk, and to listen, instead of going into negotiations with minds already made up.
  13. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    There has been no movement in the Alberta negotiations. The Provincial Health Authorities have been running print ads in every newspaper in the province, big and small telling the public that they must have the mobility clause enacted or else the health care of the whole province will suffer. Their spokesperson is writing letters to the editors of each of those same papers making much of the "high wages and great benefits" Alberta nurses enjoy, and implying that we're spoiled children for refusing to allow such a drastic worsening of our working conditions. I'm hoping my rebuttal will be in my local paper tomorrow, which describes what my life would be like if I were floated 50km beyond my usual facility. Drive, work, drive, sleep. Repeat. No way!

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