organizing

  1. Been a nurse 14 years love the work hate the job. Attempts to improve working condiditions blocked by corporate interventions. Attempting to organize at this time. For you union nurses, if you had to do it over again would you and why?
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    In a hurry so brief:
    1. YES
    2. Better patient care, laws, and a contract.
    Not to say it was easy.
  4. by   ainz
    Haven't done it. Chose a different route that will take much longer but will have longer lasting outcomes in the end than union. It involves getting involved in the political process and having nurses assume positions of authority in hospital and healthcare organization administration. I see the union as a shorter term solution, something that can be done in the relative immediate future. However, if the nursing staff could effectively and intelligently communicate with corporate leadership then things could be different. I have seen it happen.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by ainz
    Haven't done it. Chose a different route that will take much longer but will have longer lasting outcomes in the end than union. It involves getting involved in the political process and having nurses assume positions of authority in hospital and healthcare organization administration. I see the union as a shorter term solution, something that can be done in the relative immediate future. However, if the nursing staff could effectively and intelligently communicate with corporate leadership then things could be different. I have seen it happen.
    Are you willing to give us a few tips?
  6. by   ainz
    At our hospital, I am the Chief Operating Officer and an RN and came up through the ranks of nursing. Our Chief Nursing Officer is an RN (naturally) but she also has other non-nursing departments that report to her. Our CEO is a lab tech that came up through the ranks of the lab. Our CFO is an accountant. We run our hospital. We are clinicians who have gained additional finance and business education and skill (except the accountant). There are 7 other hospitals in our market, both for-profit and not-for-profit. We have a waiting list of people who want to come work for us in our nursing, lab, and radiology departments. We have nurses who quit this hospital 5 years ago who have come back and those waiting for an opening to come back. We have completely eliminated the need for agency nurses (as of last October).

    We work for a for-profit hospital corporation, very bottom-line oriented and sensitive to the stock market, very short term thinkers and engage in knee-jerk reactions to quarterly earnings. They have repeatedly done idiotic things to cut costs.

    We have created a little "pocket" in our market where the focus is on good patient care. Our philosophy is simple, if the staff nurses don't succeed in their jobs, we in administration don't succeed in ours. If we deliver a quality product (healthcare) then patients and doctors want to use our facility over and over. If we have patient and doctors coming back repeatedly, then the money is there. If we have an effective balance in reinvesting in our organization, then our revenues exceed our expenses and the doors stay open and our employees are compensated satisfactorily.

    Five years ago this hospital was considered the bottom of the barrel by doctors, the community, and employees. Volumes and market share were falling. The corporate guys were doing what corporate guys usually do, cut costs, cut benefits, cut salaries, reduce numbers of staff, change the staff skill mix so less RNs, and so on as many of the nurses that post here have described. The hospital was dirty, run down, equipment old, etc. Nurses were quitting left and right and our agency nurse usage was through the roof.

    Our current management team inherited this hospital. We created a concept we call service excellence. We realized the value of nurses and other clinicians in creating a good hospital. We set up a system that gave a tremendous amount of autonomy to the various managers to run their units as they saw fit with good patient care as the sole objective. We asked the nursing staff and other staff what they thought we needed to do to improve. We set up a system that allowed them to voice their opinions and ideas. We implemented those ideas. We got results. We convinced the corporate guys to give us the opportunity to try our new approach. They listened. Why did they listen? Because we have clinical people with finance and business skills running this hospital who understand the environment we work in, who understand the mentality of the corporate people, who understand how to talk to them, and who know how to provide the data they want to see in order to gain approval for various initiatives for change.

    We are not where we want to be yet, but we are well on the way. Are we the "utopia" of American hospitals? No. We have made unbelieveable progress and continue to do so. When you walk in our front door you can feel the positive and energetic atmosphere. Our staff are truly glad to be at work and are very proud of our hospital. I get visitors in my office regularly who comment on this. I have vendors and salepeople who call on multitudes of hospitals that ask me what we have done here, who tell me that our hospital is truly different than others.

    I could into more detail than you want to know (probably) about the various things we have put in place that have made a difference. The bottom line here is that we have nurses and clinical people in the positions of decision-makers, that have the authority to change things in the hospital and have patient care as the center of everything we do. We see it that way and we expect anyone who works with us (not for us, we are a team) to share the same view. We do not want our organization contaminated with negative, griping, greedy, cost-cutting people. We carefully select who works for us. We do not accept other corporate officers that our corporate headquarters tries to send us that are "bottom liners." We stand up and say no and we clearly communicate what we want and need to keep our hospital a great place to work.

    We did all of this without a union and without creating an adversarial relationship with our corporate office because we have nurses and clinical people who run this hospital that understand finances and business as well.

    We need more nurses willing to step up and assume positions authority and decison-making. More nurses who will learn the finance and business side without forsaking their dedication to good patient care and who will not succumb to greed. They are out there.

    Those are a few of my tips.
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you:
    It sounds as though you have done an amazing job.
    How did you inherit the hospital?
    Any advice for experienced expert staff who want to remain clinicians as to communicate with such as a CEO and other management who do not want to listen to the staff?
    The VP of Nursing who seems to put up with their directives?

    Again thank you.
  8. by   glascow
    In the community where I work,we are trying very hard to organize the nurses. Not necessarily by a union, but we are investigating that route.
    Last edit by glascow on Apr 23, '05
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://acadiananurse.com
    Hey looks great!
    Have to read more.
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    Glascow:

    Hope you are reading:

    Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public
    by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon
    It" is the first comprehensive guide to give nurses the information and encouragement they need to make their important work recognized and respected by the public."
    Website: http://www.silencetovoice.com

    Look at their website under "Tell the World What You Do!" http://silencetovoice.com/narratives.html and how "A Narrative Makeover" makes all the differrence in getting your message across.

    I had the opportunity to hear Suzzane Gordon speak this past April at a PASNAP event and will be meeting Bernice at PSNA 's 100th anniversery celebration on Saturday, October 18, 2003. Restating our meesage in terms the public can understand makes ALL the difference. Please read this book to understand how to effectively communicate the essence of NURSING and the difference we make in people's lives.

    PS also placing message under OT legislation thread.
    Karen
  11. by   ainz
    spacenurse--as you probably can tell by now my posts are usually long winded (sorry), just get carried away and passionate about all of this. I have posted some long replies that go into great detail about what I have learned concerning effectively communicating to administrators and corporate-level executives. In summary, with them, it is all about the numbers. They focus on 2 primary things--1)building volume and revenue 2) reducing or containing costs. I believe I have a very long and detailed reply on the "is that any way to retain nurses" post started by -jt
  12. by   glascow
    need to delete this post.
    Last edit by glascow on Aug 7, '03
  13. by   fedupnurse
    Yes Thom, I would want a union. Despite a lengthy strike during an cie cold winter many years back, I don't work for a group of people like ainz. Wish I did. Myname wouldn't be fed up then! There are things you must know.
    1. any union is only as strong as its' weakest member, and we have a lot of weak members.
    2. The union is the staff who pay dues. If you vote in Teamsters, let's say, the Teamsters are basically the parent union. You elect a local executive board made up of staff from the hospital. It is a time consuming, hard low or no paid position.
    3. My hospital is a part of a health system. They employ an extremely high priced labor attorney to "negotiate" with us at contract time and also spend millions keeping other disgruntled, sick of getting screwed by the high paid executives, at our other facilities from organizing. They intimidate, threeaten and fire people involved. Yes those people usuaully get their jobs back but there are other subtler ways to go after staff.
    4. Do heavy duty research into the "parent organization" union you would be contacting. I really feel the union we have is a joke. They don't step up to the plate for the local. The state rep doesn't want to mae waves about important issues and the President of the parent union has political aspirations that come first. There are good unions out there. Again, you have to have a forceful local executive board made up of your colleagues to protect your contract on a daily basis. Of about 600 or so nurses in my local, there are maybe 30 or 40 of us who are militant type about the contract. It sucks the life out of you after awhile.

    If you are lucky enough to work in a facility like ainz', don't ruin it with a union. If you work for the likes of the suits where I work, go for it. If you want more info, feel free to PM me.
    -jt is another member who works in a unionized facility. Their union is thru the State Board of Nursing which is a whole different set up then what I am in.
    Good luck to you.
  14. by   -jt
    <-jt is another member who works in a unionized facility. Their union is thru the State Board of Nursing>

    Actually, its the state nurses Association - not the state board.
    We once were in a trade service union with all the other employees but we got out of that because RNs were the minority and our issues were always put on the back burner. Besides that, the leaders of the parent organization were too involved in advancing their own personal political agendas (and using our dues to do it) to be bothered with addressing our issues. We got out of that & went with the state nurses association instead. I prefer it because iIts run for and by RNs. The primary issue is the staff RN concerns. No ones got political aspirations clouding their priorities or misusing our dues monies.

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