Should it be illegal for nurses to unionize in not for profit hospitals?

  1. I am an RN coping with a recent debilitating run in with a careless/drunk driver and have returned to college in order to find a new career path. Which finds me doing some intersting assignments.

    This question is posed only as a debate topic for a college level class.

    It is an assignment that I did not want, I hate it, I cannot change it, it is an assignment I must complete as written on the title line "Should it be illegal for nurses to unionize in non-profits (not for profit hospitals). While I would rather be catching up on CEU's during spring break, I find myself spending the last few days in the library working on this arcane term paper. However, when I am in a good mood, I see it as the challenge that it is, and welcome it - becuase it can only help me to prepare for what I will face when I graduate: a lot of tough questions from healthcare professionals.

    I have had little trouble finding info on unions, and non-profits, but am having real trouble finding info on whether or not is should be considered illegal. ANY help from the forum on ideas or places to look would be GREATLY appreciated. ANY ARGUMENT AGAINST NURSES UNIONIZING WILL HELP.

    I have come up with one argument FOR it, and that is the (so called) patient abandonment issue (for example, in the case of a strike). I still need at least five more reasons to argue that RN's and other healthcare professionals should NOT unionize (ESPECIALLY in the NOT FOR PROFIT SECTOR).
    That is a big part of what is making this topic so hard, trying to differentiate between not for profit and for profit and why it should make a difference. I have read that the Health Care Amendments of 1974 expanded coverage of Taft-Hartley Act (not exactly a pro-union act of legislation) to include non-profit, private health care facilities, which makes this even harder. Some of the answers I expect to receive may be general in nature, or based on historical evidence (I have READ some anti-union rhetoric that unionizing may demean certain types of professionals, making them look like "common laborers").

    Thanks for the time. In reality, any suggestions on why it SHOULD be legal are almost as helpful, all I have to do is reverse the argument.

    Finally, as healthcare professionals, we need to be able to look at diverse topics such as this one, even if it seems ludicrous, and come up with articulate answers - it is part of being faced with challenges and being able to overcome them. Most of all, to be able to argue for the "wrong side" of an issue, means you obviously have a complete understanding of the entire issue you dealing with, and can therefore argue your side even better. That said, I welcome private emails on this subject.

    Thank you,

    R.A. RN
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   gwenith
    Does it have to be American examples - we have "emergency worker" legislation that can make some strikes illegal however we do have a union and most of our hospitals being goverment are "not for profit" If you want further information the union websites are listed over in the Australasian forum.
  4. by   indrn
    In the first place, non-profit is an accounting sham to trap the naive. If they were truly non-profit why do they charge as much and sometimes more than so called for profit facilities. Clever accounting can make the books say anything they want. In the second place, nurses should not join unions because unions can be controled by any number of means; bribery, intimadation, colusion etc.etc. Nurses should be true professionals and be Independent contractors/business people offering their services to facilities and patients as such, with terms dependent on economic laws such as supply and demand and their individual negotiating skill.
  5. by   Tweety
    indrn, I work for a "not-for-profit", which does not mean free care and giving it away. A profit must be made in order to stay open, working within a budget, unless there is some source of unlimited funding. Thus the feeling at the hospital I work at the budget is very important, and it doesn't "feel" any different than a for profit hospital.

    I don't think it should make a difference if a hospital is not-for-profit or for-profit if a nursing staff wants to unionize and strike, they should have that right.
  6. by   sjoe
    Freedom of assembly is protected by the US Constitution. "Should" we, then change the Constitution to give unfair competitive advantage to what are inaccurately called "non-profits"?
  7. by   BBFRN
    It's my understanding that it used to be illegal for not-for-profit hospital nurses to strike. If I remember correctly, that changed in the '70's or '80's. There is legislative info on it somewhere (either a Congressional Act, or a Supreme Court decision), but I don't remember where I found it (also had to learn about this topic in a nursing trends/issues course). Happy hunting!
  8. by   susanmary
    It should not be illegal to unionize in a "not-for-profit" hospital. Unions, which clearly are not perfect, perhaps would afford some fairness, control, and options for staff in the rather tenuous climate that health care staff face today. If health care staff want to unionize -- nonprofit or not -- they should have that right.

    Sorry about your accident. You won't always like your assignments -- try to make the best of them. I think this is a valid assignment & I wish you luck. Try doing some searches on the internet -- you will find some helpful material.
  9. by   movealong
    At one point in my life, I was a union nurse for a non profit hospital. Not a thing wrong with it.

    I had the best benefits of my working career there. But we worked hard there.

    I've never been involved in a strike though. The closest we came was to authorize a strike vote. And we picketed the place to protest a really horrible contract offer. But it never came to a strike. And yes, I did walk that line. And I'd do it again. We weren't asking for much, just enough to keep pace with inflation at that time. And we had problems with staffing to the point were we even asked to sign a form releasing us from responsiblity on some days, that's how unsafe we thought it was. They would always then manage to find us some help. This was back in the 80's. It was settled before it ever came to striking.

    Note of interest: a friend of mine was in management during a nursing strike. All management workers were flown in to help cover, their airfare, their hotels(nice ones) all paid for. And once the strike was settled, she received a real healthy bonus ( talking thousands), all management workers did, for their part in assisting while the rank and file were out.

    The hospitals in this situation ( under strike) stop all elective surgeries and farm patients out to other hospitals and divert alot of patients.
  10. by   -jt
    <I have come up with one argument FOR it, and that is the (so called) patient abandonment issue (for example, in the case of a strike). >

    Well, that argument doesnt hold water because pts are NOT "abandoned" when nurses strike. The hospital is well aware for months that its actions in negotiations may be provoking a strike. When it finally does push the nurses to a strike, it is given a 10 day notice before the strike is to begin so that management can make appropriate arrangements for the pts care. That notice is required by law. The hospital then has 10 days to stop elective procedures, decrease admissions, move pts to other facilities, bring in other nurses to care for them, or settle the issues and avoid the strike entirely. If the strike happens, the Dept of Health is there everyday to make sure pts are being cared for. And the striking nurses have a team on standby ready to go back in, sanctioned by the union, to take care of any pt crisis. NO pt is "abandoned" in a nurses strike.

    All nurses have the legal right to unionize. The kind of facility they work in has nothing to do with them having a voice in their workplace. Most unionized nurses have the legal right to strike. The only exception is those whose employer is the government - such as unionized nurses who work in VA hospitals.

    Collective Bargaining Is Your Right
    http://www.ana.org/dlwa/barg/index.htm
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 18, '04
  11. by   neophyte
    Debate Topic. For a class, not the real world.
    I will admit that I am glad I am not debating you yourself.
    Re: the argument not holding water. I am well aware that the argument does not hold water and that not only you, other nurses in general, and the ANA, but the American Public agree as well. As duly noted in the 1974 revision of the Taft-Hartley Act. That does not prevent the assignment listed in my original thread from being assigned. Therefore, the argument may not hold water, but as long as I can spread that water around in an articulate, concise and readily accessible manner (or better yet, in a obfuscatory, confounding manner) I still have half a leg to stand on in a classroom debate.
    Thank you for the link you provided earlier.

    That said, I am working under the notion that until you are ready to argue for the other side, your not prepared to argue for either
    Last edit by neophyte on Mar 18, '04
  12. by   pickledpepperRN
    For the sake of your assignment, from the multimillion dollar Union buster Burke Group:

    http://www.djburke.com/Content/healthcare.htm

    As a practical matter, a union will capitalize on the breakdown in communications between employees and leadership to launch its organizing activity. The Burke Group is typically approached by an organization facing a labor relations crisis.

    We effectively deliver products and organizational changes that result in direct and positive impacts to both the individual employee and the organization in the quality of services provided to both its internal and external customers.

    The time, energy and expense of the interventions supplied by TBG are far outweighed by the fact that all of the negative components of a unionized workforce including:
    * Potential work stoppages,
    * Compromised organizational culture and values,
    * A workforce that is not linked to the strategic goals of the business,
    * Ever-increasing productivity costs, and
    * Divisiveness in the workplace are eliminated or avoided altogether.

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