Bid to Organize Nurses Faces Setback in Congress

  1. I'm betting it will be really hard to organize this hospital, given the economic climate, the crummy market for nurse jobs, and general economic fears:

    The battle has ground on for 20 years. In 1989 and again in 1994, a clear majority of nurses at a Louisville, Ky., hospital signed cards saying they wanted a union. But each time a majority of the nurses later voted down the idea when it was put to a secret ballot.

    Organized labor points to the fight at Norton Audubon Hospital as proof that America’s labor laws need to be overhauled: judges ruled that management had prevailed by illegally intimidating and firing nurses.
    Nurses who want a union plan to try again, and they had expected a Democratic president and Congress to retool labor laws to make it easier to win. Instead, in Louisville and around the country, organized labor may be facing a major setback in the most contentious fight over labor laws since the 1940s.

    Right now, unions seem to lack the 60 votes needed to block a Senate filibuster against the Employee Free Choice Act, the bill that would give workers the right to have their union recognized as soon as a majority signs cards calling for a union. The change would make it easy to bypass secret-ballot elections, which are traditionally harder for unions to win.
    Full article at:
    Last edit by brian on Apr 21, '09
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   FireStarterRN
    Why would a secret ballot election hurt unions? I thought it protected the identity of the voter?
  4. by   AsystoleNKY
    The year was 2004. All I wanted from the union was a safer environment for my patients. If you are in nursing for the money that is all to sad. Because truth be known, there is not enough money in the world to put up with some of the b.s. that comes along with all the responsibilities, as well as, liabilities, nurses must face day to day. If you are a real nurse (and by that I mean from the heart) you keep coming back because you care and the job gives you a complete inner gratification.

    I am all to familiar with this topic and how management intimidates staff. Nurses......beware. I was prounion and after the ballots were cast (no union), I immediately lost my job of 21 years. And I was not the only one. Did the union stand behind me? No. Well, they brought someone in for an affidavit. But, in the end, all I got for an answer is that we have a republican for in the White House.

    Unions lie. They impose underhanded tactics and they most certainly do not have your best interest at hand. If I had it all to do over, I would steer clear of any union. It cost me my career. I lost friends who were considered family. But most importantly, it almost claimed my life.
    Last edit by AsystoleNKY on Apr 21, '09 : Reason: misspelled word
  5. by   Overland1
    Quote from FireStarterRN
    Why would a secret ballot election hurt unions? I thought it protected the identity of the voter?
    Therein lies the rub... a secret ballot does protect the privacy of the voter, while a non-secret ballot could cause people to just vote for a union out of fear of reprisal from union people.

    Something to think about...
  6. by   oramar
    I am for secret ballot. However, when the cards are signed the election needs to be held within two weeks. The institutions have to much time to intimidate employees they way it is now. AND, this is a big AND, unions need to do a better job of projecting the employees that support it. If the elections fails they do not do that.
  7. by   Chisca
    Any rights you enjoy as a worker came about because someone struggled and fought for it. It is no accident that the states who previously fought for the right to enslave others are hostile to any form of collective bargaining.
  8. by   AtomicWoman
    I used to work for a large law firm that represented companies involved in what I can only call union-busting. It really opened my eyes to the tactics a company will use in order to prevent a union from getting a foothold. The behavior I read in this article did not surprise me at all. The nurses who are pro-union are really sticking their necks out, unfortunately.
  9. by   FireStarterRN
    I think the fact that unions are pushing for a non-secret ballot shows me that they want to exert some sort of undue influence, with some sort of repercussion on known dissenters. It could be something as simple as social/peer pressure. Social ostracism in the workplace is a powerful tool.
  10. by   CountyRat
    "[T]hey had expected a Democratic president and Congress to retool labor laws to make it easier to win."

    If you cannot win in a fair election with secret ballots, it means the workers do not want what you are offering. The solution is not to "retool labor laws" (read, rig the game in your favor) it is to do a better job representing your members. I have been a nurse for 28 years. I have worked in both union represented and non-represented possitions. I never want to work in a union shop again, and this plan to "retool" the law so that unions can get into places where they cannot win an honest election is just one more example of why.

    (PS: I am the son of liberal Democrat parents and a father who believed strongly in unions, even serving as an unsalaried officer in his local. I was raised to love unions, and I was proud to join one fresh out of nursing school. The sad fact is, today's unions are nothing like the organizations they were in the mid-twentieth century. They have become something that I can no longer support, and I am not surprised to read that most nurses do not support them.)
    Last edit by CountyRat on Apr 22, '09
  11. by   cmawrule
    I wouldn't vote in any election that didn't have a secret ballot. No one has a need to know how I voted unless they are planning some kind of retaliation for not voting for them.