For years, unions have been praised for protecting workers' rights and providing a fairer system for the "little guy", often overlooking the faults in a potential union. I currently work at such a hospital. I have worked in both the union and non-union branches of this hospital, and here are some things I have noticed:
1. Mandated shifts: In the non-union branch, nurses were not mandated to work over their scheduled shift. However, on the unit I currently work, nurses are mandated on a weekly basis (16 hour shifts). So a nurse could potentially work from 7pm-7 am, be forced to work until 11am and then turn around and come back for another 12-hour night shift.
2. Nurse-staff ratio: Nurses at the non-union branch could not refuse a seventh patient and nurse-patient ratios were protected. Oftentimes, the busy med-surg nurse had to pick up a sixth or seventh patient. At the unit I work on, the nurses get 5 patients, but I have often seen them with a sixth patient. From other floors, I've heard med-surg nurses getting 8+ patients. What is the point in being in a union, again?
3. Bureacracy: Everything at the non-union hospital seemed to be much less complicated. Wanted to pick up hours at another unit? Easy. Just sign up. Missing an SCD pump or a bed side commode? Borrow for another floor. At the union hospital, there is so much red tape. Picking up on other floors is tough if you aren't in the float pool. Need housekeeping to clean up a spill? You have to dial for environmental services, describe the spill, the room number, in much detail and wait until housekeeping showed up. Oh, and by the way, housekeeping can only clean up after four discharges.
At the non-union hospital, housekeeping had assigned floors. We did not have to go through such a lengthy process to clean up a simple mess, nor did we have to order SCD pumps and ask the manager to buy bed side commodes.
4. Seniority: The union branch seems to be very keen on seniority. At the non-union hospital, holidays were rotated. At the union branch, however, senior nurses got all the shifts they wanted. Forget about the young new nurse whose baby is celebrating their first Christmas. In my opinion, rotating holidays and weekends is a fairer system. No one should have to wait years and years and years to be able to get those vacation days approved.
5. You have to pay into the union. 30 bucks a month adds up pretty quickly!
So, don't get me wrong. Not all union hospitals and non-union hospitals are as described, neither can they all be categorized/stereotyped. These are just some of the observations I have personally noted. While I think unions are generally a good thing, they have a dark side to them as well.