Union or nonunion what should it be????

  1. Iam an RN working on my BSN and would like feed back from those nurses that work in a union hospital and those that do work in a nonunion hospital.
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    I have worked both and would never go back to a non-union hospital. The union provides a certain amount of back up for an RN. My experience in both types is that admin. will try to screw you at either type of hospital, but the union provides you with a way to adress your concerns and sets certain guidelines in place regarding OT, patient ratios, holiday time, etc. The only problem is that a union is only as good as its members. In my experience though, the people ******** about how bad the union is are the last ones to try to improve it by becoming involved.
  4. by   Maria uk
    I have to agree whith fergus51 althrough in the uk was have had unions withing the National health services for as long as they have been involved in Nursing, in the privet sector and about 8 years ago some employer would not speak to unions, but they could not stop nurses been part of a union. I am with the RCN Royal Collage of Nursing and althrough it is a union it is what is called a professional union. That is it is a professional org. first and a union 2nd.

    The RCN does alot to further the development of Nursing and provides training so often where an employer was non union theycould see the professional side accept this if not the Union. I will say through that nurses need to belong to a union because if not they do not have any protection when things go wrong and who is going to advise them of their rights.

    What I will say is that in a non union enviroment managerment do as they plesae and tell the staff what they are going to do and if you disagree well you can leave. In the union enviroment then at least staff are involved at the start of any changes and managers are more aware of not overstepping the mark because the work forces is informed of their rights more.

    Yes a union is only as good as its members and also only as good as the actives who help the staff in the workplace. I am one of those activist been both a steward and a health and safety Rep.
  5. by   -jt
    << I have worked both and would never go back to a non-union hospital.......a union is only as good as its members. In my experience though, the people ******** about how bad the union is are the last ones to try to improve it by becoming involved.>>

    DITTO.

    next questions....... "Do professionals join unions? Is it professional to join a union"

    Is it professional to Guarantee yourself a say in your employment conditions, practice & compensation?
    Of course it is.

    Heres the perspective from several unionized professionals - an MD, an Engineer, an RN, a teacher, a lawyer & judge, & a human services administrator - :

    UNIONS: A Professional Choice -
    "The doctors and nurses who want the best for their patients, the lawyers who protect the publics health and the engineers who ensure passengers safety on airplanes are all professionals who seek to contribute to society through their work while looking for opportunities to
    be creative and excel at their jobs. And more and more, these professionals are seeking a voice at work to help them achieve their goals..........

    Star solution: Actor Tom Hanks walks the picket line during the five-month-long Screen Actors Guild/Television and Radio Artists strike in which performers were on the forefront in ensuring new kinds of work in tomorrow's economy translates into good jobs for working people................

    For more than 100 years, artists and teachers have come together in unions, and other professionals have followed their lead. Already, professional workers are represented by unions at a higher rate (23 percent) than the workforce at large (about 15 percent), according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they make up the fastest-growing occupational category in the workforce: Professionals will account
    for almost 27 percent of all employment growth between 1998 and 2008, according to the BLS..........

    Listening to the needs of professionals and enabling them to gain a voice at work is a key part of activists efforts to strengthen the union movement.......

    Professionals are finding that new economic pressuresmanaged health care, corporate mergers, threats of privatization and outsourcingare reducing the influence they have at their jobs and hurting their ability to maintain the quality of services, according to two new studies.......

    The Professional and Technical Workforce: A New Frontier for Unions, a recent report by the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, finds these economic forces threaten to undermine their professional autonomy, working conditions and dignity.

    Changes in corporate structure have professionals looking for a vehicle to protect their professional dignity, advance their training and provide them with a voice in the workplace, says DPE President Paul E. Almeida. More and more, these professionals are looking for a union that will ensure these rights. .........

    Actors, artists and other performers long have recognized the value of unions for professionals. During recent high-profile contract negotiations, Hollywoods best-known actors and actresses, such as Tom Hanks, have talked about the importance of their unions to them and to the thousands of professional entertainers who dont make six- or seven-figure salaries.........

    Professionals say its getting harder to serve the best interests of their customers, clients and patientsand they no longer can count on stable employment, secure benefits, regular pay increases or upward job mobility, according to Finding Their Voices: Professionals and Workplace Representation, by the Albert Shanker Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by union leaders and named after the former president of American Federation of Teachers.........

    Professionals feel their ability to make decisions and exercise professional judgment is diminishing and they are frustrated with their reduced control, says Richard Hurd, professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University............

    The challenge for unions is to show that their role will be to bring these workers a voice and to show that the union will be under the professionals control. As in any organizing campaign, says Hurd, the key to success is to listen to the workers. Heres what six professional employees have to say about why they want unions:

    A Pediatric Physician - unionized with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists/AFSCME/AFl-CIO:

    Treating asthma, fractures, burns, ear infectionsand even child abuseare all part of a routine day for Alice Faye Singleton, M.D., director of pediatric clinics at King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.....

    Half of the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit in the medical center are born to drug-addicted mothers, while the medical centers trauma unit is filled with victims of drug-related violence. The doctors and other professionals at King/Drew, which serves low-income clients south of downtown, are dedicated to channeling their professional skills to help heal their communityand Dr. Singleton says her union is essential for
    keeping it that way.......

    Yet only a few years ago, supervisors treated doctors with a basic lack of respect, she says. They ignored doctors contributions to the medical center and were not open to solving problems. Many policies werent in writing and doctors received widely divergent pay and workloads. Dr. Singleton wanted to craft a fair solution, so in 1999 she became involved in a successful unionization drive with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists/AFSCME/AFL-CIO. Now shes on the contract negotiations committee........

    There is more fairness since the union is here, says Dr. Singleton. Managers know unions can hold them accountable. A union is a mechanism to make management listen and communicate with doctors. .......

    Dr. Singleton's union helps her thrive in a career she began working toward as a teenager growing up with nine brothers and sisters in Harlem. Even more, the advantages of union membership extend beyond the center. The community benefits because doctors will stay here and work for the community, she says. They have a sense of mission to take care of patients who are poor.......

    A High School Teacher - unionized with the Cleveland Teachers Union/AFT /AFL-CIO:

    Recognizing student concern over issues ranging from campus safety to the hours the recreation center pool is open, West Lincoln High School teacher Dave Thurau harnessed that enthusiasm, assigning students a project to write letters to the mayor and other elected officials. The Cleveland students buzzed with excitement when they received responses, emblazoned with official government seals, which Thurau displayed on a classroom bulletin board........

    Thurau, a government and world history teacher and member of the Cleveland Teachers Union/AFT, came up with the innovative teaching technique after earning a certification in social studies last year from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The board, endorsed by AFT, the National Education Association, foundations and business groups, awards the certificates to top teachers who complete rigorous exams that measure mastery of a subject and ability to inspire students. CTU partially funds the Cleveland Teachers Academy, which sponsors coaches to help teachers prepare for the exams....

    The certificate helps bring professionalism to teaching and sets high standards, says Thurau. It helps teachers improve our teaching by making us examine how effective we are in the classroom. Since taking the certificate course, hes infused his classes with other innovative strategies, like assigning students to write editorials for the school newspaper on current events. The kids are learning more, enjoying it more and are being
    more cooperative, he says....

    The lanky father of three also regularly takes part in seminars sponsored by his union on leadership training and such professional issues as behavior management for classrooms......

    Thurau is pleased that the latest contract negotiated by the union includes improved wages, improved health benefits and a procedure to remove disruptive students from the classroom. Teacher unions such as AFT and NEA push to improve teacher quality, he says. They are about better education..............

    An Administrative Law Judge - unionized with the Civil Service Bar Association/Teamsters Local 237/AFL-CIO:

    As an administrative law judge at the New York City Department of Health, Ilene Shifrin hears cases involving violations of the citys health code issued to day care centers, restaurants and other buildings. She takes pride in her work, noting that New Yorkers health is better protected because the department is doing its job well, she says..........

    The union is a key to ensuring the quality of legal services for New York City residents, says Judge Shifrin. The city is better able to retain and recruit attorneys interested in public service because the union fights for good salaries and benefits, she says. The union also negotiated free continuing legal education classes. Starting lawyers have huge law school debt, and if salaries are too low, you cant attract people who want to protect
    public health and protect children from child abuse. ........

    Judge Shifrin also knows that lawyers need unions for other reasons. As secretary of the Civil Service Bar Association/Teamsters Local 237, she has had the chance to meet many city-employed lawyers, some with hair-raising tales. Ive heard stories about managers who stand at lawyers desks and write them up if they are two minutes late coming back from lunch, she says. Some lawyers share phones with up to seven others because the city wont provide them with equipment.......

    When she realized she was doing the work of someone with a higher job title but not getting the extra pay, Judge Shifrin filed a grievance and won. The union backed me up and I saw that I could have a voice, she says.........

    I never wanted to practice law in the traditional sense, she says. I wanted to serve the public. And the union allows me to do that............

    An Engineer - unionized with the
    SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001:

    Tom McCarty, who designs radar and other communications equipment for Boeing Co. aircraft in Seattle, is among thousands of professionals helping transform an airplane from a tangle of blueprints to a dynamic, graceful tube of aluminum gliding through the sky........

    People believe in the company and take pride in their work, says McCarty. While watching successful test flights, McCarty says hes seen grown men with tears running down their cheeks. Theres a lot of pride in seeing that plane take off.........

    But like many professionals at the company, McCarty, 57, grew concerned when Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas, bought divisions of other technology companies and stopped treating engineers as allies in creating quality aircraft. Then Boeing began laying the groundwork to cut engineers health and pension benefits. When the company started to treat us as a cost, not a partner, people took great offense. ...........

    McCarty supported the drive of his independent union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, to affiliate with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers in the fall of 1999. In January 2000, McCarty, along with a large majority of Boeings 20,000 workers, walked off the job in what became the largest private-sector, WHITE-COLLAR STRIKE in U.S. history.........

    During the successful six-week strike, McCarty, a father of six who is married to his high school sweetheart, used the same engineering skills that make him a successful radar designer: He built environmentally friendly burn barrels to keep picketers warm.......

    Ultimately, the contract that workers and Boeing negotiated included pay increases and no benefit cutbacks. McCarty also points to another crucial clause: a labor-management partnership agreement that gives SPEEA/IFPTE members a voice in the companys decisions. Having a union is a tool for making our voice heard, he says. We want to have a role in determining our destiny.........

    A Registered Nurse - unionized with the
    SEIU Local 790/AFL-CIO:

    When San Francisco city and county officials wanted to shut down Laguna Honda Hospital two years ago, Natividad Dullas and her co-workers knew it was time to take action. Dullas and other members of SEIU Local 790, a part of SEIUs Nurses Alliance, saw the threat as an increasing trend of government abandoning its commitment to public health for seniors and the homeless.......

    In a spirited campaign that brought together the community and workers, Dullas and other union members knocked on voters doors, phoned their homes and won a ballot measure to keep the hospital open. The union is helping the community, she says.........

    The desire to help others is what motivated Dullas to become a nurse. The daughter of two doctors, Dullas jokes that her parents successfully brainwashed her and her eight siblings into becoming medical professionals. A registered nurse at Laguna Hospital, the mother of three works in the department of nursing education and training, teaching nurse co-workers about nutrition, fire safety, disaster preparedness, violence in the workplace and spiritual issues that patients face at the end of life. She also is getting a masters degree at San Francisco State University in gerontological nursing, focusing on managing pain for elderly patients........

    A lot of our clients suffer from dementia and cant communicate to us when they are in pain, says Dullas. It is a challenge for the staff to help them. .......

    Dullas' desire to help extends to her fellow workers. My co-workers would come to me when they had problems with the administration, such as scheduling and being treated disrespectfully, she says. Union leaders tapped her as a shop steward. I just couldnt take it, seeing my co-workers being treated that way. .......

    Her union gives nurses a voice to solve conflicts, Dullas says, and helps improve patient care by working to keep staffing levels adequate. With the union, we have a say with the administration, she says..........

    Assistant Supervisor/Human Services - unionized with the Communications Workers of America Local 6186:

    When food stamp recipients call the customer service center in Houston where Communications Workers of America Local 6186 member Arnulfo Samm Almaguer works as an assistant supervisor, they often need immediate assistance. ...........

    If theres a new child in the family, or some other circumstance requires more food, they need Almaguer and his co-workers to increase their benefits quickly. When your pantry is empty, a week is a long time, he says.........

    If the call center is short-staffed, which it often is because low salaries lead to high turn-over, clients will suffer. Staffing levels impact our clients, says Almaguer. They affect whether people get their food stamps in a dayor in a week. .....

    Members of CWA Local 6186, the Texas State Employees Union, are working to boost salaries and benefits for workers at the states Department of Human Services. Almaguer knows that means building the union so it has more clout with state lawmakers who fund the department. The legislature responds to big numbers, he says. I joined the union because with numbers comes strength. (contrary to popular belief, there ARE unions in
    Texas)......

    Almaguer signs up new union members when workers first arrive at the call center for training. He approaches them in the lunchroom during breaks, telling them about the importance of joining the union. He knows a strong union movement in Texas means better service for low-income people who rely on him and his co-workers for food stamps, Medicaid and other government assistance. The legislature responds to voters, says Almaguer. "And with the union, we have people power."
    http://www.aflcio.org/articles/unions/index.htm

    so what about it is not "professional"???
  6. by   Jenny P
    Actually, Trish, there are 3 types of places to work: non-union: professional union (with your state nurses assoc. doing the collective bargaining for you) and also a union which is not primarily made up of nurses (say, the AFT or UAW, for instance). And maybe a 4th type, with the federal government as the boss (but I've never worked in the VA or military service, so I can't give you any advice on that).
    I've worked in the 1st 3 different types of workplaces, and I definitely prefer the professional union with the state nursing association being your bargaining unit. Nursing is very different from teaching and also from auto workers; and if you have a smaller, unique profession (such as nursing) inside a larger diverse union, some of the rules of the larger group don't always apply to nursing and some of nursings needs may not be addressed. Also, I've heard of 1 union representing many different levels of employees in a hospital and thereby keeping the nurses' wages lower because the housekeeping and dietary staff didn't think nurses needed such big salaries!
    Good luck in your search of places to work, and I hope you keep some of these things in mind when you go out and get your 1st nursing job.
  7. by   -jt
    Lets put it this way. Without a union, these nurses who stood up & refused to accept short staffing & an unsafe assignment & were fired for doing so, would have no recourse to correct this injustice or stop the hospital from doing the same to any other nurses. But they are unionized so they are fighting back at the hospital that fired them for following their profession's Code of Ethics, Bill of Rights for Nurses, and Code of Nurses.


    Tuesday, July 24, 2001
    Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Demonstrators back fired Sunrise nurses
    Two say hospital planned to assign too many patients

    REVIEW-JOURNAL

    Fired last week from Sunrise Hospital in a dispute over patient care, two nurses are fighting to get their jobs back, claiming they were protecting their patients by refusing to care for too many at once.

    The unidentified nurses were supported during a public rally Monday morning held by the local nurses union. More than 60 people rallied behind the pair to criticize Sunrise Hospital officials and challenge administrators to rehire them.

    "Shame on Sunrise. We have two brave nurses who stood up to protect their patients, and what do they get? In response, the hospital fires them," said Thomas Beatty, executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1107.

    The union represents 3,200 nurses in Clark County.

    Sunrise officials say the nurses were fired for refusing to work before hearing assignment details.

    Four nurses refused to start their shift July 15 after learning that a fifth nurse had called in sick.

    The two nurses who were fired refused to hear a report that would have described patient conditions, Sunrise spokeswoman Ann Lynch said. The report would have informed them a replacement nurse was on her way and that two of the patients had been discharged, she said.

    Two of the four nurses decided to work after learning about the situation. The two who subsequently were fired refused to start their shifts until the replacement nurse arrived, Lynch said.

    "Our night shift nurses had to stay on an extra three hours to cover them," Lynch said. "Their refusal to accept assignments without even hearing them first ignored the interest of the patients, and the hospital just cannot accept that."

    Nurse proponents, however, say the pair were familiar with the patients from working a prior shift with them and knew their conditions. The nurses could not have safely taken care of extra patients and were afraid of losing their licenses if they accepted an assignment they could not handle, union members say.

    "Once you accept a number of patients and something goes wrong, your license is in jeopardy," said Chris Salm, chief union investigator for the incident.

    Union members also are concerned about the message they believe Sunrise is sending to all its nurses: Accept the amount of patients we give you or lose your job.

    "Nurses have the right to refuse an assignment that is unsafe for patient care," said Deborah LaFave, a union member and Sunrise nurse.

    Based on reports sent to the union from Sunrise in the past 12 months, the union maintains the hospital's turnover rate for nurses is 26 percent. The statewide rate is 12.6 percent.

    Lynch said the numbers don't take into account new hires or rehires, however, and that the hospital's turnover rate is in line with the statewide rate.


    http://www.lvrj.com
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  8. by   -jt
    speaking of unionized nurses:

    Rx for better care: unionized nurses
    Tuesday, July 24, 2001

    "The clerk who checked me out at Kaufmann's department store the other day was, until recently, a registered nurse at a local hospital, as was the manager of the Motel 6 down the street. They are among many nurses who have fled a profession in crisis. If you are not a nurse, or a member of another health-care
    profession, you may not think this is anything to be concerned about.........

    Think again.............

    There are few professions that have the potential to affect our well-being more than the nursing profession. Most of us encounter our first nurse seconds after we are born. If we become critically ill, the person who will be at our bedside to get us through the worst moments is likely to be a nurse. And when we are at death's door, we will be fortunate if a nurse is present to comfort and reassure us. Imagine not having a nurse to turn to at these
    critical times............

    I recently attended a world congress of 5,000 nurses from more than 100 countries in Copenhagen, Denmark. From the Albanian nurses to the Zambian nurses, the concern, frustration and anxiety was palpable. Among the most disenchanted were the nurses from the United States............

    To be certified to practice in this country, today's registered nurse must have mastered a complex body of knowledge drawn from basic science, medicine and biomedical technology and demonstrated competence in a wide range of clinical skills. They then have the opportunity to take jobs in hospitals and nursing homes, putting in long hours, working nights and weekends, making life-and-death decisions and earning modest wages. This is what nurses have
    always done with little complaint..........

    But what has many RNs so upset today is their belief that our current health system's devotion to the financial bottom line is preventing them from providing optimal, or even adequate, care to their patients. HMOs and insurance companies rake in profits by forcing health-care providers, such as hospitals, to cut costs. Hospitals, in turn, squeeze more productivity from their nurses........

    Thus, we see widespread understaffing, with fewer and fewer nurses being asked to care for more and more patients. We see an increase in mandatory overtime that compels nurses to work 12-, even 16-hour shifts, reducing their ability to provide high-quality patient care and disrupting their personal lives. And we see nurses increasingly being pulled (or floated) from their usual assignments to work in areas of the hospital where they may not have
    adequate training.........

    The resulting dissatisfaction and disillusionment is reaching epidemic proportions..........

    Not surprisingly, nurses are leaving the profession, or reducing the hours they work, at unprecedented rates. In 2000, only 58.5 percent of registered nurses in this country worked full time.........

    This has resulted in what many are calling a "nurse shortage." But this is a misnomer..........

    There are currently more than just 100,000 openings for RNs in this country; however, there are approximately 500,000 trained nurses not currently practicing. Rather than a shortage of nurses, we have a shortage of nursing jobs with sufficiently attractive working conditions and compensation either to bring nurses back or to bring potential nurses into the profession......

    The flood of nurses leaving their jobs sets in motion a vicious cycle in which fewer nurses are available to work, leading to more understaffing, resulting in more mandatory overtime and more burned-out nurses, which, of course, results in more nurses leaving their jobs.........

    However, many who continue in the profession are responding in a different way. They are shedding the largely passive role nurses have played in the health-care system of the past and assuming a more aggressive, activist role. There is precedent for this.........

    Florence Nightingale, the patron saint of nurses, has commonly been portrayed as a selfless handmaiden of healing, when in reality she was a fire-breathing feminist and patient advocate who tried to raise the stature of her profession and questioned the medical establishment of her time. This is the role model nurses are beginning to embrace.........

    In Copenhagen, nurses engaged in formal and informal discussions about how to improve health care around the world. Very often, the delegates came to the same conclusion -- nurses can best fulfill their traditional role as patient advocates by banding together to fight for better working conditions and a greater voice in health-care decisions..........

    More nurses in the United States and elsewhere have found unions to be the most effective way to gain a greater voice in workplace and public policy decisions. In the United States, only 19 percent of working nurses belong to unions (in the Scandinavian countries it is above 90 percent), but this is rapidly changing.......

    Nursing is one of the most active areas for union organizing today. Unionized nurses are winning reductions in mandatory overtime and floating through collective bargaining. They are lobbying Congress and state legislatures for bans on forced overtime and for passage of minimum staffing standards......

    Patients and other health-care professionals should not be alarmed by this trend. In fact, they should support it. It is a time of rapid change for the American health-care system and physicians, administrators, government bureaucrats, elected officials, HMOs, and insurance companies all have seats at the table of health-care reform. For a truly patient-centered system to emerge from this process, however, nurses must have a seat as well.......

    If nurses can channel the intelligence and energy they put into patient care every day into the reshaping our health-care system, we will all be better off. And if they need to join unions to do so, we, as potential patients, should say "Nurses of the World, Unite!"

    Paul F. Clark, author of this article, is professor in the Department of Labor Studies and Industrial Relations at Penn State University.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/healthsc...0724hoped3.asp

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