Nursing and unionization... - page 4

Recently, we were gathered in a meeting held by human resources regarding attempts by a national labor organization to unionize nurses in our area. Now, if anyone can use good union representation,... Read More

  1. by   HM2VikingRN
    In 2003 QSI contract workers finally challenged this atmosphere of fear. According to Julio Vargas, who worked for the company at the time, "the wages were very low and we had no medical insurance. When people got hurt, after being taken to the office they made them go back to work and wear pink helmets [to humiliate them]. We were fed up." Led by Vargas, the cleaning crew refused to go in to work. "We started talking to people as they arrived. Those who were in agreement stopped the other workers on their line."
    The company negotiated, and workers won concessions. The next week, however, those identified as ringleaders lost their jobs. "They fired me because they thought I was one of the organizers," Vargas recalls. "And I was." (Another of those fired in 1994 was Keith Ludlum; last year the NLRB did force Smithfield to rehire him and and pay $1.1 million to workers fired for union activity. Though it was a victory for the union, for Ludlum's coworkers on the line, the lesson was that Smithfield lawyers kept a union supporter out of work for over a decade, in violation of federal law.)
    Despite the firings, UFCW organizers understood the importance of that work stoppage: They knew the government couldn't and wouldn't guarantee an election free of union busters, labor law violations, and intimidation, and they realized they would have to organize workers in different ways. Today the UFCW supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which would increase penalties for companies who fire workers for union activity and make it easier to organize. Until the law is changed, however, like most unions it seeks ways to organize workers without labor board elections. Justice for Janitors or the United Farm Workers' grape boycott have become models for this kind of non-NLRB strategy.
    http://prospect.org/cs/articles?arti...bor_organizers

    These are some real examples of how employers intimidate and coerce employees with the tacit collusion of government.
  2. by   naskippy
    I am a traveling nurse and I am for the first time working in a hospital that is Union in Iowa. What a nightmare. The union and hospital management are at constant war. The nurses have worked without a contract for almost 2 yrs and have filed numberous lawsuits...all of which they have won and the hospital continues to appeal and keep things tied up in court, thus resolving nothing. Without a contract the hospital has been free as a buck deer to do as the please. They have frozen all nurses salaries for the last two years (but they give raises to everyone else except the RN staff), they have increased patient ratio's (night shift, medical telemetry, 6-8 pts each and 1 tech and if you get admits even worse), they hired in a new Director 2 years ago to take over the medical floor when the nurses started striking...they shipped her into small town Iowa from Arizona (smell anything fishy) she is obviously well trained....uhmmm and I'm not talking nursing. I have been there on contract for 4 months and during this time this Director has gotten rid of 14 nurses on this unit, some escaped to other units but most were terminated or run out the door with a bunch of threats regarding their future employment or future in nursing! The problem is very simple...the hospital does not take the Union seriously. They thumb there nose at them at every opportunity. They are noncompliant with Federal Rulings by their high powered Chicago attorney's keeping everything tied up in court, they have and continue to fire Directors and Middle management nurses and recruit "union busters" from the outside...and I mean way outside not local and in most cases not from Iowa. This hospital is doing everything they can to rid themselves of this Union including the recent firing of the Union Vice President (one of the 14 I spoke of earlier). (The hospital is owned by the largest healthcare corperation in Iowa, IHS).The nurses not having but about 60 to 65 percent participation in the Union and of that 60-65 percent many are not willing to actively support union activites or strikes due to fear of lossing their jobs.

    After seeing the way this hospital is treating these nurses I have no problem with a "good" union representing the nurses of any hospital...but the unions can also only do so much if the nurses are not willing to unite in overwhelming majority, and 60-65 percent participation just doesn't cut it. I have seen it here and I have to think things would be a heck of a lot different if the nurse joined together, but they continue to fight against each other instead of joining forces.

    This is the only hospital I have worked at that is Union. I would like to work one day in a hospital that was Union where the Union is strong and see the differences it makes. Maybe one day in my travels I will. Thanks
  3. by   Freedom42
    Quote from naskippy
    After seeing the way this hospital is treating these nurses I have no problem with a "good" union representing the nurses of any hospital...but the unions can also only do so much if the nurses are not willing to unite in overwhelming majority, and 60-65 percent participation just doesn't cut it. I have seen it here and I have to think things would be a heck of a lot different if the nurse joined together, but they continue to fight against each other instead of joining forces.

    This is the only hospital I have worked at that is Union. I would like to work one day in a hospital that was Union where the Union is strong and see the differences it makes. Maybe one day in my travels I will. Thanks
    What a shame that your non-union co-workers can't see that they are aiding and abetting management in its mistreatment of nurses. I just don't get that: What is it that non-union members want? Continued job insecurity? The thrill of never knowing from one year to the next whether they'll get a raise? The risk of having inadequate health insurance and retirement benefits?
  4. by   naskippy
    Freedom42...let me clarify. I am a Traveling Nurse just passing through town here. I am not an employee of this hospital. But your point is still the same....and a good one.

    I am glad my contract ends this coming week. I have 4 more shifts and I am free of this nightmare. Now don't get me wrong, I love the nurses I work with and most all of them are union members...but the management of this hospital is not only abusive (trying to run off the union members) but I have to question their dedication to quality patient care. What is more important here? The patients and the community the hospital serves or it is more important to win a battle with the nursing union...a battle that a Federal Court Judge has ruled on a couple of times now in favor of the union that the hospital is not compliant or follow fair labor practices or law.

    Now I am just an outsider looking in and my days are quickly coming to an end...but in my view, for the betterment of the patients and the community at large and for the betterment of employee satisfaction which also in turn reflects on patient satisfaction, and due to all the waisted money the hospital is spending lossing all these lawsuits...Just settle and sign a contract!!!! Everyone would be much better off and happier I would think! Oh well, I was just sharing my horrid experience here with Union issues as a traveling nurse....I'm one of the lucky one...I get to leave in 4 more shifts
  5. by   lindarn
    Quote from naskippy
    Freedom42...let me clarify. I am a Traveling Nurse just passing through town here. I am not an employee of this hospital. But your point is still the same....and a good one.

    I am glad my contract ends this coming week. I have 4 more shifts and I am free of this nightmare. Now don't get me wrong, I love the nurses I work with and most all of them are union members...but the management of this hospital is not only abusive (trying to run off the union members) but I have to question their dedication to quality patient care. What is more important here? The patients and the community the hospital serves or it is more important to win a battle with the nursing union...a battle that a Federal Court Judge has ruled on a couple of times now in favor of the union that the hospital is not compliant or follow fair labor practices or law.

    Now I am just an outsider looking in and my days are quickly coming to an end...but in my view, for the betterment of the patients and the community at large and for the betterment of employee satisfaction which also in turn reflects on patient satisfaction, and due to all the waisted money the hospital is spending lossing all these lawsuits...Just settle and sign a contract!!!! Everyone would be much better off and happier I would think! Oh well, I was just sharing my horrid experience here with Union issues as a traveling nurse....I'm one of the lucky one...I get to leave in 4 more shifts
    I fully agree with you that the "martyr maries" of the nursing profession go out of their way to shoot themselves, and everyone else, in the foot. I don't know what the answer is. I have fought the same fight for years in two states, and it never changes.

    I think that there should be a closed shop, thereby EVERYONE is required to either belong to the union, or pay comparable dues $$ to a charity, or whatever.

    Would it help if the union members went to the public, with picketing, involve the media, and let the cat out of the bag about how the hospital is treating the nurses. This is a topic that everyone in the town is affected by. The nurses should ALL PRACTICE DEFENSIVE EMPLOYMENT, and involve employment lawyers, and file wrong ful termination suits against the hospital. Nurses' reluctance to involve, and invoke there constitutional rights, and let hospitals get away with this illegal behavior, has been the down fall of the nursing profession. We get pushed around, and bullied, and never take action against the hospitals or nursing homes.

    Perhaps, as a going away gift to your friends at this hospital, call a reporter, or a newscaster, and inform them of the goings on. Have the fired nurses go onTV and tell their side of the story. Get the hosptal some negative publicity, and let the nurses take it from their.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
    Last edit by lindarn on May 13, '07
  6. by   HM2VikingRN
    Quote from zashagalka

    you can argue that the ability to strong-arm co-workers is more fair if you like. it's a non-sensical argument. in truth, such a system is a much more accessible system for unions. true enough. but fair? not a chance. that's the point. when you can't win fairly, some resort to other means to get their way.
    in fact, unions are systematically losing ground, year after year, nationwide.
    why? because employees can choose, fairly.

    ~faith,
    timothy.
    here are some real life examples of how workers rights to organize collectvely were violated in a health care setting:
    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/usla...tm#p846_205560


    at the palm garden nursing home in north miami, the unite for dignity campaign narrowly lost an election, 35-32, in april 1996. palm garden management resorted to massive unlawful means including repeated threats to cut pay and benefits if workers chose union representation. managers forged signatures on warning notices against leonard "ted" williams, a key unite for dignity activist. they backdated the notices, then fired williams shortly before the election.145
    palm garden management did not disguise its bias against workers' forming a union. its personnel manual states:
    this is a non-union health center . . . if you are approached to join a union, we sincerely hope you will consider the individual freedoms you could give up, and the countless risks you could be taking. we intend to protect those freedoms and prevent those risks for you by opposing unionization of this health care center by every lawful means available.146
    company officials unlawfully threatened loss of benefits and wage cuts if workers chose union representation. one powerful threat was to stop helping workers fill out food stamp applications.147 with such low wages, many employees were eligible for food stamps and needed assistance with english-language forms.148 in a captive-audience meeting, two managers staged a "mock negotiation" portraying a stubborn company proposing to cut pay down to the minimum wage and an inept union bargainer. then they told workers, "that's what will happen in negotiations," unlawfully communicating to workers that it would be futile to choose the union.149.
    ...

    because "i saw so many bad things," said sylvain, she became active in the organizing effort.153 "i talked to the other haitian workers," she told human rights watch. she distributed and collected union cards and spoke up at organizing meetings. she eagerly served as the union's election observer during the nlrb ballot in april 1996. her dismay at the lost election was made worse, though, when the company fired her at the end of april, telling her that she had given "too much problem at this place" and that she "brought the union to the work place."154
    ...
    "everybody is scared now," she explained to human rights watch. she said everyone knows ted williams and marie sylvain were fired for their union support. "i would get fired if i took up for the union," she added. she said that people still want a union, but "people want it to be automatic, not with a lot of trouble."157
    ...
    villa maria management launched a concerted attack on the workers' attempt to form a union. an administrative law judge found, for example, that a supervisor infiltrated a union meeting by signing a union card with a false name to spy on workers and report attendance back to management.161 in a series of captive-audience meetings in january 1996, management told workers that if they signed any union papers "we would lose our pension . . . we would lose our home."162 the company assigned cnas to additional weekend work to discourage union activity.163
    the administrative law judge found that villa maria management mobilized new armed security guards during the union organizing campaign to intimidate workers and spy on union activity. in addition to newly hired security agents at the site, archdiocese administrators sent additional security forces from other facilities to villa maria during shift change times, when union advocates distributed flyers to coworkers. security guards held clipboards and appeared to write the names or license numbers of workers who accepted union flyers.
    ...

    some workers' organizing attempts are terminated at early stages by firing key worker activists. "when i look for a new nursing home job, they tell me not tocome back after they learn about the palace," jewel parham told human rights watch.167 parham was a cna making $5.50 per hour when she sought to form and join a union at this 200-employee miami nursing home in late 1997. as documented in an nlrb complaint, management retaliated by firing her and four other movement leaders in a single week in january 1998, crushing the organizing effort before it could reach an election.168...

    king david management proceeded systematically to fire active union supporters. jean aliza, lude duval, marie larose, marie pierre louis, michelle williams, carline dorisca, and ernest duval were all fired on trumped-up charges. they were ordered reinstated by the administrative law judge who heard testimony and reviewed documents, and the nlrb upheld the judge's order.
    jean aliza was "set up" by managers and fired early in the organizing effort, after a year-long "satisfactory" record suddenly became "unsatisfactory" based on warning notices he never saw.180 lude duval was fired next for not having a cna certificate, though she had three years of college toward an rn degree and had passed a cna test administered by king david (by contrast, another employee, opposed to the union, who lacked a cna certificate, was given alternate work until she obtained a certificate). duval got her certificate a month after she was terminated, but king david refused to take her back.181 marie larose was fired after she refused a supervisor's peremptory order to take off a union button.182 michelle williams was fired for having fourteen "call-ins" (calling in to say she would not come to work), while a leader of an anti-union employee group was untouched with twenty-two call-ins.183 management "concocted" a misconduct charge to get rid of carline dorisca.184
    again who is intimidating who? card check is simply a matter of letting workers negotiate with each other free from the fear of economic intimidation from management.
  7. by   HM2VikingRN
    emphasis added....
    no surprise, then, that edwards repeatedly and emphatically reminded the seattle town hall of just how deep that commitment has become, insisting that unlike traditional democrats, who merely seek union support, he has adopted a view that american prosperity can expand only if unionization expands. "it doesn't matter who i'm speaking to," edwards told the crowd. "i talk about this issue wherever i go, whoever the audience is. i've talked about these organizing issues in front of chambers of commerce...and i think we desperately need comprehensive labor law reform." that line provoked the fourth standing ovation of his pitch.
    the fifth ovation came when the former north carolina senator said, "the difference between being unionized and not is the difference between living in poverty and not.... i think if somebody can join the republican party by signing their name to a card, any worker in america ought to be able to join a union by doing the same thing."
    three more ovations erupted during edwards's forty-five-minute appearance, as the candidate proposed measures that would require employers to provide or pay for healthcare and ban permanent strike replacements, and called for approving only those trade pacts with real labor protection. edwards punctuated his appeal on a personal note, pointing out that his father and brother have healthcare today only because of a union plan.
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070528/cooper

    i think edward's point about ease of affiliation is well put....
  8. by   Simplepleasures
    Quote from naskippy
    I am a traveling nurse and I am for the first time working in a hospital that is Union in Iowa. What a nightmare. The union and hospital management are at constant war. The nurses have worked without a contract for almost 2 yrs and have filed numberous lawsuits...all of which they have won and the hospital continues to appeal and keep things tied up in court, thus resolving nothing. Without a contract the hospital has been free as a buck deer to do as the please. They have frozen all nurses salaries for the last two years (but they give raises to everyone else except the RN staff), they have increased patient ratio's (night shift, medical telemetry, 6-8 pts each and 1 tech and if you get admits even worse), they hired in a new Director 2 years ago to take over the medical floor when the nurses started striking...they shipped her into small town Iowa from Arizona (smell anything fishy) she is obviously well trained....uhmmm and I'm not talking nursing. I have been there on contract for 4 months and during this time this Director has gotten rid of 14 nurses on this unit, some escaped to other units but most were terminated or run out the door with a bunch of threats regarding their future employment or future in nursing! The problem is very simple...the hospital does not take the Union seriously. They thumb there nose at them at every opportunity. They are noncompliant with Federal Rulings by their high powered Chicago attorney's keeping everything tied up in court, they have and continue to fire Directors and Middle management nurses and recruit "union busters" from the outside...and I mean way outside not local and in most cases not from Iowa. This hospital is doing everything they can to rid themselves of this Union including the recent firing of the Union Vice President (one of the 14 I spoke of earlier). (The hospital is owned by the largest healthcare corperation in Iowa, IHS).The nurses not having but about 60 to 65 percent participation in the Union and of that 60-65 percent many are not willing to actively support union activites or strikes due to fear of lossing their jobs.

    After seeing the way this hospital is treating these nurses I have no problem with a "good" union representing the nurses of any hospital...but the unions can also only do so much if the nurses are not willing to unite in overwhelming majority, and 60-65 percent participation just doesn't cut it. I have seen it here and I have to think things would be a heck of a lot different if the nurse joined together, but they continue to fight against each other instead of joining forces.

    This is the only hospital I have worked at that is Union. I would like to work one day in a hospital that was Union where the Union is strong and see the differences it makes. Maybe one day in my travels I will. Thanks
    Hopefully we may soon see the tide turning for workers and unions, unions have been weakened by those who chose to believe the trash talk of the employer that their work conditions would be so much better if only they trusted in the "goodness" of the employer to do the right thing for the employee.The motivation for these healthcare industries is MONEY driven by GREED, the fair wages and work conditions for their employees is not even on their to do list. We really need to wise up and become more sophisticated as a profession.Doctors would not stand for such treatment, why do we? Weak ineffectual unions will be ousted by the employees and a stronger union if they dont start doing their job, we should not tolerate a weak union any more than we should tolerate abuse by the employer.
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    Where I work the non RN staff is represented by a different union. We work together well.
    The LVN leader of the other union just graduated and as soon as she passes her boards will be a CNA member.
    Some hospitals don't have the good relationship with other unions that we have with our colleagues. I credit our fellow workers - pharmacicts, lab techs, housekeepers, medical records, and especially nursing colleagues LVNs, CNAs, RTs, unit secretaries, and monitor techs.
    Our volunteers are terrific too. They range in age from 17 to 102!

    A couple hospitals we have a "sibling union" of caregivers. I think I would like that a lot but some political stuff I don't understand interferes. Oh well WE are truly a family anyway.
  10. by   MrChicagoRN
    In Chicago there aren't too many unionized caregivers. Stroger Cook County Hospital & University of Chicago are the only ones I know of offhand.

    Most Chicago hospitals work hard to keep their employees happy enough so that unionization is not a serious consideration.

    Unions can be necessary in some environments, but may not be acting in the best interests of health-care professionals.

    I support teamwork, up-down, and laterally. I really don't want to hear, "it's not my job."
  11. by   HM2VikingRN
    Coincidentally, in the same week that Circuit City axed its clerks, an analysis of Internal Revenue Service data from 2005 that became available showed that the bottom 90 percent of Americans made less money that year than they had in 2004. According to a study by economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, total reported income in the United States increased by 9 percent in 2005 over its level in 2004. All of that increase, however, came from the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, and the wealthiest 1 percent experienced an increase of 14 percent. Among the remaining 90 percent, income actually decreased by 0.6 percent.
    ...

    What all this amounts to is a triumph of corporate and financial power, and of the conservative economics that shores it up. Once upon a time, American prosperity actually benefited Americans. From 1947 through 1973, productivity in the United States rose by 104 percent, and median family income rose by an identical 104 percent. Those were also the only years of real union power in the United States, years in which one-quarter of the workforce, and in some years one-third, was unionized. Apparently, this level of worker power and mass prosperity proved intolerable to our financial elite and their political flunkies. Since the '70s, American business has generally done its damnedest to keep its workers down. Employers routinely opted to pay the negligible penalties for violating the National Labor Relations Act rather than permit its employees to join unions. In 1969, according the National Labor Relations Board, the number of employees who'd suffered illegal retaliation for exercising their right to join or maintain a union was just over 6,000; by 2005, that number had risen to 31,358. According to a study out this January from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, fully one in five activists on unionization campaigns are illegally fired. And as worker power declines, so do living standards. Secure retirement pensions are history; employer-provided health benefits are going fast.
    http://prospect.org/cs/articles?arti...e_not_for_thee
  12. by   oneLoneNurse
    Love your postings, HM2Viking. I am very surprised that our anti unionists have not responded to them.
  13. by   firstyearstudent
    I was talking to an instructor recently about my employment options and mentioned that I was crossing one hospital I liked off my list because they weren't union. And she told me that it wasn't important to join the union and pay dues because everyone benefited from what the union was doing in California. So it didn't matter. That seemed vaguely irresponsible to me.

    I was offered a job at an open hospital last week and I am definitely joining!

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