Silver Spring, MD
- The American Nurses Association (ANA) denounced today's decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Oakwood Healthcare to broaden the definition of "supervisor," saying it could effectively deprive hundreds of thousands of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses of their right to choose to impact their work environment through collective bargaining.
"We are deeply concerned with the NLRB's decision because it represents an assault on the rights and preferences of nurses regarding whether or not they choose to join a union," said American Nurses Association President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR. "We recognize that collective bargaining may not be the choice for everyone, but protecting and preserving that right is fundamental to the safety and well-being of both nurses and the patients they serve." President Patton added, "The three members who have devised these new interpretations of the law clearly do not understand the nature of nursing practice and how being a Registered Nurse who delegates tasks does not equate to having the managerial duties that Congress identified as necessary to make someone a supervisor under the law."
The NLRB has provided new definitions for activities which would purport to make employees "supervisors" who can be excluded from the protective coverage of federal labor law. ANA takes issue with the NLRB's view of key terms. Under the NLRB ruling, the term "assign" has been given new broad meaning, to include the assignment of "overall duties and tasks" while the phrase "responsibly to direct" was interpreted in one of the companion cases issued today to include the direction by charge nurses to certified nursing assistants to clip residents' nails or to empty catheters if the direction were given with requisite accountability to meet the "responsible" test.
"These new definitions that focus on task assignment or direction can create havoc with traditional ideas of what constitutes 'supervisory' work, because RNs frequently tell other members of the health care team what to do. That activity doesn't mean the RN is a supervisor," said Linda J. Stierle, MSN, RN, CNAA, BC, Chief Executive Officer, ANA. In addressing the NLRB's assessment of independent judgment as a component of supervisory activity when assigning or directing others, Ms Stierle stated, "Far from being supervisory, nurses' exercise of critical judgment is an inherent part of nursing practice within the context of a defined set of statutory, regulatory and professional protocols and constraints."
In 1988, the NLRB said that collective bargaining gains accomplished though the creation of separate RN units have been an "important step toward making the nursing profession a more attractive employment opportunity." (Collective bargaining Units in the Health Care Industry, 53 Fed. Reg. at 33,971)
With the nation facing a growing shortage of nurses, ANA expressed concern that now is not the time to change workplace rules that have assisted in creating positive working conditions for nurses. Registered nurses face rampant under-staffing of their nursing units, the use of untrained floaters, and mandatory overtime. Limiting employees' rights will not foster the atmosphere in which health care delivery issues can be effectively addressed.
The ANA, as it has for over 100 years, will continue to oppose policies and practices that undermine registered nurses' ability to have an impact on the workplace and to improve patient care, and will work to support RNs who seek continued access to collective bargaining.
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Oct 6, '06
I disagree with the decision.
The definition of management is simple, to me: do you have the ability to hire or fire, or even - to make someone punch out and go home.
If you don't have that ability, then you aren't management.
That being said, I'm also not prepared to declare doom and gloom over this decision. Such attempts to change the order of things normally backfire and/or suffer from the law of unintended consequences.
The result of THIS decision: the only way to make someone a charge nurse is to entice them out of their unions. THAT will cost one heck of a premium. I think the role of 'charge nurse' is about to get a huge pay raise in union areas of the nation. Or, more likely, once management finds that it cannot recruit for this position WITHOUT paying some real bucks, I would expect them to DEFINE the role as a union job and look for ways to define the roles that don't contradict this ruling.
You can WANT your cake and eat it too, but reality never ever actually cooperates with that. So, management is about to find this out. What happens next should be interesting, to be sure. But I doubt it will break most unions, and might actually strengthen them.
It comes down to this: the law of supply and demand has more power than the NLRB. When you play with supply, you also play with demand, whether you want to or not, whether the NLRB agrees or not.
Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Oct 6, '06