Lowering Nursing Salaries - page 5

Have any of you got news of them lowering salaries due to the shortage? There had been talk of the new hires salaries being lowered.... Read More

  1. by   RNadvocate
    It's not about the money -- it's about patient care. Here is what we have learned: higher wages=better recruitment & retention=better staffing=better patient care. And we all know how to get higher wages, just look at where they are highest: CA & NY!! all union.
  2. by   AnneDNP
    Quote from kadokin
    I don't know if you mean the western united states or the western world, but I personally am opposed to unions in nursing b/c:
    -I don't believe healthcare needs ANOTHER level of bureaucracy. As it stands, most decisions in healthcare have to take multiple agendas/interests into account such as: management, physicians, public health, joint commission, hippa, ada, etc. and of course, nurses and patients. Do we really need to add the union agenda to the list?
    -If a union represents a group, the individual members of that group may find their own concerns/needs taking a backseat to the concerns and needs of the union. I don't believe this is always a good idea. Sometimes, it's the diversity of a group that makes it stronger as a unit.
    Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of unions in theory and have no problem w/people who choose to organize, if that is their desire. I just think we have to be careful when we give others the prerogative to make our decisions for us.
    In the world I live in, Unions are not third parties as you make it sound. Unions are made of members who democratically elect their representatives and vote to ratify their contracts. As someone said in a previous post, unionized nurses have higher salaries...it is not because "they gave other the prerogative to make decision for them"; but because they have join together to be stronger.
    I am always amazed how as nurses we know so well how to be patients' advocate, but we are so pathetic (with a few exceptions!) at working together to advocate for ourselves.
    Iowa nurses have the "priviledge" to be last in the nation for their average wages. Because only very few hospitals are organized in Iowa, administrators get away with racing to the bottom of how low they can go without having to much problem hiring. Wages are also highly compressed, new nurses making almost as much as nurses with many years of experience.
    Not too far, in Minnesota, where nurses have been organized for thirty or more years, salaries are as high as 3 times those of Iowa nurses, partucularly for senior nurses, because hospital have to compete to the top for wages bargained in contracts.
    ...as someone else said earlier, it's Economic 101!
  3. by   kadokin
    Quote from iowanurse199
    In the world I live in, Unions are not third parties as you make it sound. Unions are made of members who democratically elect their representatives and vote to ratify their contracts. As someone said in a previous post, unionized nurses have higher salaries...it is not because "they gave other the prerogative to make decision for them"; but because they have join together to be stronger.
    I am always amazed how as nurses we know so well how to be patients' advocate, but we are so pathetic (with a few exceptions!) at working together to advocate for ourselves.
    Iowa nurses have the "priviledge" to be last in the nation for their average wages. Because only very few hospitals are organized in Iowa, administrators get away with racing to the bottom of how low they can go without having to much problem hiring. Wages are also highly compressed, new nurses making almost as much as nurses with many years of experience.
    Not too far, in Minnesota, where nurses have been organized for thirty or more years, salaries are as high as 3 times those of Iowa nurses, partucularly for senior nurses, because hospital have to compete to the top for wages bargained in contracts.
    ...as someone else said earlier, it's Economic 101!
    Thank you for the information. I have a few questions.
    -Do the nurse's unions you are familiar with require nurses in their hospitals to join the union?
    -Do merit and performance have any bearing on wages that these unions negotiate?
    -Are nursing adminstrators part of the union?
    A few yrs back my hospital attempted to organize a union. I was not interested for a few reasons. The unions where I live tend to be in the industrial sector and I have heard and seen too many rotten things come out of it. For instance, workers who do anything but work and clock in impaired/altered d/t recreational issues (if you get my drift). These folks take home fantastic wages and benefits, but they are difficult to discipline b/c of a long-drawn-out grievance process. I understand that a union can help it's members, but I also believe they can be a detriment.
    *2 sides to every story*
  4. by   Sheri257
    Quote from iowanurse199
    I am always amazed how as nurses we know so well how to be patients' advocate, but we are so pathetic (with a few exceptions!) at working together to advocate for ourselves.
    This is so true.



    Quote from iowanurse199
    Not too far, in Minnesota, where nurses have been organized for thirty or more years, salaries are as high as 3 times those of Iowa nurses, particularly for senior nurses, because hospital have to compete to the top for wages bargained in contracts.
    That's pretty remarkable ... especially since Minnesota doesn't have much of a nursing shortage.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Dec 28, '05
  5. by   Sheri257
    Quote from kadokin
    -Do the nurse's unions you are familiar with require nurses in their hospitals to join the union?
    -Do merit and performance have any bearing on wages that these unions negotiate?
    -Are nursing adminstrators part of the union?
    A few yrs back my hospital attempted to organize a union. I was not interested for a few reasons. The unions where I live tend to be in the industrial sector and I have heard and seen too many rotten things come out of it. For instance, workers who do anything but work and clock in impaired/altered d/t recreational issues (if you get my drift). These folks take home fantastic wages and benefits, but they are difficult to discipline b/c of a long-drawn-out grievance process. I understand that a union can help it's members, but I also believe they can be a detriment.
    *2 sides to every story*
    Usually if you work at a union facility, you do have to belong to a union. Union pay is usually based on years of experience. The more experience you have, the higher the pay. Nursing administrators usually aren't union members. It is difficult to discipline union workers because the of the grievance process. But that process also protects your job.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Dec 29, '05
  6. by   AnneDNP
    Kadokin,
    Iowa is a "right to work" state, which means that people do not have to belong to a union if they do not want to, although they benefit from all the protection a contract offers. Illinois has different laws regarding open or closed shops.
    I am not quite sure what you mean by merit and performance. Some of the contracts I am familiar pay incentives for certifications, higher degrees, charge pay, perceptor pay, tuition reimbursement. Most use wage tables based on years of experience, some give credit for previosu expereince.
    My opinion is that performance is something that should be expected of every employee and should not be linked to wages.
    I totally agree that the diversity of a Union is what makes it strong. One of the advantage of having a Union is that nurses from different department have the opportunity to talk about how different or alike they are...it is always interesting to find out that by talking to each other we gain strentgh and learn from each other.
    Again rules might be diffferent in different states, usually as long as you don't have the duty to hire or fire other employees, you could be in the bargaining unit.
    My experience is that the fact that union "protects" bad employees is a myth. It is always management decision to discipline people who are not performing according to standards. Unions only offer a fair process and make management accountable for folowing the same process and treat employees in a fair way.
    Union in the industrial sectors have brought us the 40 hours/week, vacations, and many other benefits, and I am very thankful for those who worked hard and fought for those things. I beleive that although we do different jobs, union members are fighting for the very basic same things, like respect for the work they do and themselves, decent wages and a voice in whatever work we do.
  7. by   Sheri257
    Quote from iowanurse199
    My experience is that the fact that union "protects" bad employees is a myth. It is always management decision to discipline people who are not performing according to standards. Unions only offer a fair process and make management accountable for folowing the same process and treat employees in a fair way.
    I wouldn't say it's a total myth. I've seen unions protect some bad employees. But then I've seen management protect bad employees also. So ... on that issue ... there's no difference, really.

    The bottom line is whether unions deliver salary increases and benefits for the membership which they otherwise wouldn't have. And, as you pointed out with the Minnesota example, they do.

  8. by   DusktilDawn
    Quote from lizz
    Usually if you work at a union facility, you do have to belong to the union. Union pay is usually based on years of experience. The more experience you have, the higher the pay. Nursing administrators usually aren't union members. It is difficult to discipline union workers because the of the grievance process. But that process also protects your job.
    Originally Posted by iowanurse199
    My experience is that the fact that union "protects" bad employees is a myth. It is always management decision to discipline people who are not performing according to standards. Unions only offer a fair process and make management accountable for folowing the same process and treat employees in a fair way.
    Union in the industrial sectors have brought us the 40 hours/week, vacations, and many other benefits, and I am very thankful for those who worked hard and fought for those things. I beleive that although we do different jobs, union members are fighting for the very basic same things, like respect for the work they do and themselves, decent wages and a voice in whatever work we do.
    It is not the grievance process that makes it difficult for employers to discipline employees, since it will be the employee who will file a grievance, not the other way around. How it goes is that the workers who file grievances go through a long process before it's resolved, at least in regards to hospitals in my experience. A long drawn out grievance process is to the employer's advantage, since it will discourage employees from filing a grievance. An employer has the luxury of claiming to worry about a grievance being filed as an excuse not to discipline. An employee also had to follow a process when they felt they had been addressed unfairly, the grievance process. A hospital can get rid of a "bad worker," but they have to follow a process in order to do it. The fact is that administrators have to "work" to get rid of a bad employee, which alot of administrators won't take the time to do, than it does look like the union protects them when that is not really the case, the administrators don't take the time to do what they need to do and blame the union. Their are steps they have to follow when it comes to discipline, as stated above a union will offer a fair process and management are accountable to follow that process and treat employees in a fair way. Bear in mind, despite a union, nurses will still be accountable to their SBONs and can still be reported to the SBONs for disciplinary action.
    Originally Posted by kadokin
    For instance, workers who do anything but work and clock in impaired/altered d/t recreational issues (if you get my drift). These folks take home fantastic wages and benefits, but they are difficult to discipline b/c of a long-drawn-out grievance process. I understand that a union can help it's members, but I also believe they can be a detriment.
    I also live in an industrial city where the Big Three (that would be Chrysler, Ford and GM) employ a good portion of the population. I have heard these stories from employees at these factories. How it is usually relayed, is that the workers themselves protect each other and cover for each other. What usually will happen when an employee is disciplined there is that they file the grievance (the grievance process is for the employee not the employer). If management has not crossed all their "t's" and dotted all their "i's" they usually lose, in essence if it comes across that management has violated their collected agreement with their employee or violated their rights as an employee, is when they lose.

    I also worked in a unionized hospital in this city. There were some big differences between the union at the Big Three and the hospital:
    1. Member participation. A union will only be as strong as it's members. Very few hospital employees would go to union meetings as compared to the Big Three members. If you don't go, how can you have a voice. The Big Three members tend to be very proactive in the union, the hospital members were not. The Big Three Union members knew when they had meeting, the hospital members usually did not. The Big Three union members felt that the union was there to protect them, hospital union members did not feel this way. The Big Three union members were very educated in regards to their rights as employees, the hospital union members were not. A Big Three union member wouldn't think twice about involving the union in an issue related to management, a hospital union member rarely though to involve the union. A Big Three union member wouldn't think twice about filing a grievance towards management, a hospital union member usually wouldn't bother to file a grievance. The Big Three members were very proactive in protecting their rights as an employee, hospital members tended to want it done for them.

    2. Steward availability. Elected union stewards at the Big Three would be present on the job site only as a union representative, so if an employee felt that a manager had just dealt with them unfairly, they could immediately request a stewards intervention. They have immediate access to a union steward should they choose with any interaction involving management. The union stewards only job would be to function for the employees, they would not be responsible for also performing a job (other than being a steward). In the hospital union stewards were also responsible for their job, meaning there you did not necessarily have immediate access to them. If you were an RN who was elected by your members as a union steward, you were still employed by the facility as an RN and worked scheduled shifts as an RN, so in essence if you choose to be a union steward you were taking on another job. If you wanted a union steward present at a meeting with management, that had to be arranged by YOU at your request. Also union stewards at the hospital were not allowed to conduct union related business during their working hours, meaning that if an employee wanted to discuss filing a grievance or talk to a union steward, it would have to be when the union steward was off the hospital's clock. A lot of union stewards at the hospital were elected by default, meaning no one wanted the job. At the Big Three, different story, they had to PROVE their worth to be elected because they had enough members that were interested in being stewards, in other words they could be selective in who they choose to represent them. Few people would even want to be a union steward at the hospital.

    3. Collective agreements. The Big Three members tended to know their collective agreements inside and out. They also could request a copy of their collective agreement and get one. Their union stewards were also well versed in regards to the collective agreement. They knew what their rights were when they were dealing with management, and if they didn't, they found out really quick. At the hospital, employees usually didn't know what theirs rights were in regards to the collective agreement. Good luck getting a copy of your collective agreement, you would usually be told that they "hadn't printed them up yet." Good luck finding a union steward who even had a copy of the collective agreement. Management had no problem intimidating their employees because the employees usually had no idea of their rights in the situation, and few would bother to check out what their rights were. A union member of the Big Three was more likely (and usually did) to keep their mouth shut until a union steward was present when dealing with management. A union member at the hospital was least likely to do this.

    4. Contract negotiation. The Big Three had the option to strike if their contract was not negotiated by a set date. The companies lose profits when their employees are not turning out product. Hospital employees did not have the right to strike, unless they were to "wildcat strike." Contract negotiations for hospital employees were usually on average 2 YEARS behind. There was no incentive for the hospital to complete negotiations in a timely manner, what were the consequences for them if they didn't? They weren't going to lose anything if they didn't. What were the employees going to do???? Strike!!! BAHAAAHAAAAHAAAA. Also the Big Three left little if any loop holes for management, not true when the hospital negotiated a contract. If there is a loop hole for managment to get around their employees, believe me they will use it.

    5. The Grievance Process. It was part of the Big Three's collective agreement that when they file a grievance, it be resolved with in a reasonable time frame that was specified by the collective agreement. There was no such thing for a hospital employee, grievances were often still being left unresolved 2 YEARS after they were initiated. The Big Three union members would file a grievance at the drop of hat and not think twice about it because they were usually resolved in a timely manner. A hospital union member would usually "let it go" because of how long it took to settle a grievance.

    6. Senority. At both the Big Three and the hospital this counted. It was not always a good thing either at both places. For instance in a layoff situation, higher senority could bump lower senority, and sometimes they would be less qualified for the position than the person they displaced, also a higher senority person in some situations could be given a position over a more qualified less senior person, it would dependent on what was written in regards to the job description. The plus side was that if you had equally qualified people for a position, the higher senority would get the position. The more senority, the less likely you would be layed off, if a lay off situation occurred. You didn't have experienced people pushed out the door in order to hire less experienced at a lower wage.

    7. Job protection. Jobs can't necessarily be arbitrarily eliminated. If technology has taken the place of a worker, the worker is not just "shown the door." There are usually provisions that enable the worker to place at another job that would be considered equal or on par to the one they no longer have. An employer could not just fire anyone arbitrarily, they had to follow a process in order to do so.
    Originally Posted by kadokin
    -I don't believe healthcare needs ANOTHER level of bureaucracy. As it stands, most decisions in healthcare have to take multiple agendas/interests into account such as: management, physicians, public health, joint commission, hippa, ada, etc. and of course, nurses and patients. Do we really need to add the union agenda to the list?.....

    Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of unions in theory and have no problem w/people who choose to organize, if that is their desire. I just think we have to be careful when we give others the prerogative to make our decisions for us.
    The thing is we have management, physicians, public health, joint commission, HIPPA, ADA, SBONs, government legislature, patients, ETC all having a say in how we do our jobs. In fact everyone and their uncle seems to have a say in how we do our jobs and set THEIR standards in how we do our jobs, EXCEPT US as nurses. Singularly how can we have a voice? Combining as a group with one loud voice is usually when changes can be for made for nurses by nurses and not always through unions necessarily but thorugh organized unification and presentation of a united front. It doesn't necessarily mean all nurses need to belong to a union. This is the biggest problem with the nursing profession, is that we DO NOT stand together in order to effect change. A union isn't supposed to be another level of bureaucracy for us to wade through, it is supposed to be a "tool" for employees to protect their rights, effect change for a better workplace, and a recourse if they feel they have been violated. If a union is not organized and ineffective, it will not do any of these things. A union isn't supposed to take your voice away from you, nor is it necessarily going to give you a better workplace. If union members are complacent and non-participatory it is going to serve little use in the workplace.

    A union does not take away an employees right to make decisions, unless they choose to give that right away. When you don't go to meetings and allow others to further their own agendas is when you give that right away. For instance, if one department like ICU or ER are very active in their union and other departments are not, the chances are the only issues that will be addressed and given priority will be those of ICU or ER. If done properly, a union can be an advocte or a voice if you will, for any group of employees. If not done properly, it can be essentially useless. The bottom line is: a union is only as strong and as cohesive as it's members.

    Basically folks, my post is based on my own personal experience. I have worked at a unionized hospital and what I posted was in regards to my experience there. I also have numerous friends and family members who are employed by the Big Three and comments in regards to the Big Three are based on discussions of the differences in how unions operated where they employed as opposed to where I was employed. This is why the post is comparing the two settings.

    The fact is, the union was not strong and unified where I was, people complained alot about the union yet would not participate within the union, in effect they wanted the union to do the work and sit back. The general attitude was that people felt the union did nothing for them. DUH, if you don't participate it isn't going to do anything for you. Problem was the "union" was them, not some mythical entity that was supposed to magically make the workplace better. The union members at the hospital were essentially not pro-union in their attitudes as compared to the Big Three union members.

    I have worked in a unionized facility and am currently working in a non-union environment. Little, if any difference between the two facilities. A union is only going to effect change only if union members participate in that change.

    My only advice to those thinking about organizing a union is this: DO IT RIGHT OR DON'T BOTHER DOING IT AT ALL. A union will not magically transform a workplace simply because it has been brought in. A UNION WILL ONLY BE AS STRONG AS IT'S MEMBERS.

    I will reiterate: The biggest problem IMO with the nursing profession is that we do not stand together in order to effect change with or without unions.
  9. by   Sheri257
    Quote from DusktilDawn
    Hospital employees did not have the right to strike, unless they were to "wildcat strike." Contract negotiations for hospital employees were usually on average 2 YEARS behind. There was no incentive for the hospital to complete negotiations in a timely manner, what were the consequences for them if they didn't? They weren't going to lose anything if they didn't. What were the employees going to do???? Strike!!! BAHAAAHAAAAHAAAA.
    Actually, that's exactly what 9,000 University of California union RNs did. Although they didn't actually go on strike. They threatened to strike in June after their contract expired in April. While the courts did issue a restraining order that prevented the strike, and the courts subsequently ruled that a strike would be illegal, the preparations for the strike still cost UoC $9 million.

    The end result was: a two year deal announced just this month where the union got a lot of what they wanted: UoC backed off on reducing pension and retiree health benefits ... which was the main reason RN's threatened to strike. And, for the first time, those pension and retiree health benefits are now protected in the new contract.

    While RN's did agree to pay more for health insurance, they also got a minimum six percent wage increase and outside binding arbitration for staffing issues. They also got a ban on mandatory overtime. While the deal is for two years, the union will be able to start negotiating additional wage increases for 2007, as well as other concessions, in the spring.

    So ... even a threatened "wildcat" strike did generate some effective results here: namely ... forcing UoC to back off on reducing retirement benefits ... and they were able to accomplish this in less than a year.

    Quote from DusktilDawn
    A union is only going to effect change only if union members participate in that change.

    My only advice to those thinking about organizing a union is this: DO IT RIGHT OR DON'T BOTHER DOING IT AT ALL. A union will not magically transform a workplace simply because it has been brought in. A UNION WILL ONLY BE AS STRONG AS IT'S MEMBERS.
    I agree. A union is only as strong as it's membership. I think the UoC case is a good example of this. UoC spent $9 million preparing for the strike because they knew that 9,000 RN's were willing to walk off the job. And they backed off on the retiree benefit reductions because they know those 9,000 RN's will walk off the job in the future, if necessary.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Dec 29, '05
  10. by   DusktilDawn
    Quote from lizz
    Actually, that's exactly what 9,000 University of California union RNs did. Although they didn't actually go on strike. They threatened to strike in June after their contract expired in April. While the courts did issue a restraining order that prevented the strike, and the courts subsequently ruled that a strike would be illegal, the preparations for the strike still cost UoC $9 million.

    The end result was: a two year deal announced just this month where the union got a lot of what they wanted: UoC backed off on reducing pension and retiree health benefits ... which was the main reason RN's threatened to strike. And, for the first time, those pension and retiree health benefits are now protected in the new contract.

    While RN's did agree to pay more for health insurance, they also got a minimum six percent wage increase and outside binding arbitration for staffing issues. They also got a ban on mandatory overtime. While the deal is for two years, the union will be able to start negotiating additional wage increases for 2007, as well as other concessions in the spring.

    So ... even a threatened "wildcat" strike did generate some effective results here: namely ... forcing UoC to back off on reducing retirement benefits ... and they were able to accomplish this in less than a year.



    I agree. A union is only as strong as it's membership. I think the UoC case is a good example of this. UoC spent $9 million preparing for the strike because they knew that 9,000 RN's were willing to walk off the job. And they backed off on the retiree benefit reductions because they know those 9,000 RN's will walk off the job in the future, if necessary.

    Exactly. They were taken seriously because they were serious in their intentions. They presented a united front and didn't cave. They were prepared to strike.

    There was no way at the unionized facility I worked at you could have organized the nurses to present that united a front.
  11. by   Sheri257
    Quote from DusktilDawn
    Exactly. They were taken seriously because they were serious in their intentions. They presented a united front and didn't cave. They were prepared to strike.

    There was no way at the unionized facility I worked at you could have organized the nurses to present that united a front.
    This is so unfortunate. Why is this?

    I don't know what it's like for RN's in other states or in Canada. But in California, it's not that hard for an RN to strike because they can pick up work elsewhere the next day if they want to.

    Part of the reason for this is the ratio law, which was pushed through the legislature by unions, has created a huge demand for RN's beyond the overall nursing shortage. So going on strike isn't that much of a hardship because you can pick up another paycheck easily.

    Is this what prevents RN's elsewhere from uniting in this way? Or, are there other factors?

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Dec 29, '05
  12. by   MTBanRN
    here is an article on how they do australian nurses salaries. this may be said for some us states as well. i have found that when i was working in hospitals with bad conditions the pay was substantially less.

    [color=#6666cc]wages and conditions
    the wages and conditions for nurses in australia are determined by various awards and agreements. generally speaking, awards of the australian industrial relations commission provide the legal minimum for wages and working conditions. in addition to this, nurses in the public health sector and in private hospitals are normally covered by an industrial agreement which provide additional wages and working conditions. while there is some degree of consistency, wages and conditions can vary depending on the relevant state/territory and the specific area of nursing.
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from DusktilDawn
    It is not the grievance process that makes it difficult for employers to discipline employees, since it will be the employee who will file a grievance, not the other way around. How it goes is that the workers who file grievances go through a long process before it's resolved, at least in regards to hospitals in my experience. A long drawn out grievance process is to the employer's advantage, since it will discourage employees from filing a grievance. An employer has the luxury of claiming to worry about a grievance being filed as an excuse not to discipline. An employee also had to follow a process when they felt they had been addressed unfairly, the grievance process. A hospital can get rid of a "bad worker," but they have to follow a process in order to do it. The fact is that administrators have to "work" to get rid of a bad employee, which alot of administrators won't take the time to do, than it does look like the union protects them when that is not really the case, the administrators don't take the time to do what they need to do and blame the union. Their are steps they have to follow when it comes to discipline, as stated above a union will offer a fair process and management are accountable to follow that process and treat employees in a fair way. Bear in mind, despite a union, nurses will still be accountable to their SBONs and can still be reported to the SBONs for disciplinary action.

    I also live in an industrial city where the Big Three (that would be Chrysler, Ford and GM) employ a good portion of the population. I have heard these stories from employees at these factories. How it is usually relayed, is that the workers themselves protect each other and cover for each other. What usually will happen when an employee is disciplined there is that they file the grievance (the grievance process is for the employee not the employer). If management has not crossed all their "t's" and dotted all their "i's" they usually lose, in essence if it comes across that management has violated their collected agreement with their employee or violated their rights as an employee, is when they lose.

    I also worked in a unionized hospital in this city. There were some big differences between the union at the Big Three and the hospital:
    1. Member participation. A union will only be as strong as it's members. Very few hospital employees would go to union meetings as compared to the Big Three members. If you don't go, how can you have a voice. The Big Three members tend to be very proactive in the union, the hospital members were not. The Big Three Union members knew when they had meeting, the hospital members usually did not. The Big Three union members felt that the union was there to protect them, hospital union members did not feel this way. The Big Three union members were very educated in regards to their rights as employees, the hospital union members were not. A Big Three union member wouldn't think twice about involving the union in an issue related to management, a hospital union member rarely though to involve the union. A Big Three union member wouldn't think twice about filing a grievance towards management, a hospital union member usually wouldn't bother to file a grievance. The Big Three members were very proactive in protecting their rights as an employee, hospital members tended to want it done for them.

    2. Steward availability. Elected union stewards at the Big Three would be present on the job site only as a union representative, so if an employee felt that a manager had just dealt with them unfairly, they could immediately request a stewards intervention. They have immediate access to a union steward should they choose with any interaction involving management. The union stewards only job would be to function for the employees, they would not be responsible for also performing a job (other than being a steward). In the hospital union stewards were also responsible for their job, meaning there you did not necessarily have immediate access to them. If you were an RN who was elected by your members as a union steward, you were still employed by the facility as an RN and worked scheduled shifts as an RN, so in essence if you choose to be a union steward you were taking on another job. If you wanted a union steward present at a meeting with management, that had to be arranged by YOU at your request. Also union stewards at the hospital were not allowed to conduct union related business during their working hours, meaning that if an employee wanted to discuss filing a grievance or talk to a union steward, it would have to be when the union steward was off the hospital's clock. A lot of union stewards at the hospital were elected by default, meaning no one wanted the job. At the Big Three, different story, they had to PROVE their worth to be elected because they had enough members that were interested in being stewards, in other words they could be selective in who they choose to represent them. Few people would even want to be a union steward at the hospital.

    3. Collective agreements. The Big Three members tended to know their collective agreements inside and out. They also could request a copy of their collective agreement and get one. Their union stewards were also well versed in regards to the collective agreement. They knew what their rights were when they were dealing with management, and if they didn't, they found out really quick. At the hospital, employees usually didn't know what theirs rights were in regards to the collective agreement. Good luck getting a copy of your collective agreement, you would usually be told that they "hadn't printed them up yet." Good luck finding a union steward who even had a copy of the collective agreement. Management had no problem intimidating their employees because the employees usually had no idea of their rights in the situation, and few would bother to check out what their rights were. A union member of the Big Three was more likely (and usually did) to keep their mouth shut until a union steward was present when dealing with management. A union member at the hospital was least likely to do this.

    4. Contract negotiation. The Big Three had the option to strike if their contract was not negotiated by a set date. The companies lose profits when their employees are not turning out product. Hospital employees did not have the right to strike, unless they were to "wildcat strike." Contract negotiations for hospital employees were usually on average 2 YEARS behind. There was no incentive for the hospital to complete negotiations in a timely manner, what were the consequences for them if they didn't? They weren't going to lose anything if they didn't. What were the employees going to do???? Strike!!! BAHAAAHAAAAHAAAA. Also the Big Three left little if any loop holes for management, not true when the hospital negotiated a contract. If there is a loop hole for managment to get around their employees, believe me they will use it.

    5. The Grievance Process. It was part of the Big Three's collective agreement that when they file a grievance, it be resolved with in a reasonable time frame that was specified by the collective agreement. There was no such thing for a hospital employee, grievances were often still being left unresolved 2 YEARS after they were initiated. The Big Three union members would file a grievance at the drop of hat and not think twice about it because they were usually resolved in a timely manner. A hospital union member would usually "let it go" because of how long it took to settle a grievance.

    6. Senority. At both the Big Three and the hospital this counted. It was not always a good thing either at both places. For instance in a layoff situation, higher senority could bump lower senority, and sometimes they would be less qualified for the position than the person they displaced, also a higher senority person in some situations could be given a position over a more qualified less senior person, it would dependent on what was written in regards to the job description. The plus side was that if you had equally qualified people for a position, the higher senority would get the position. The more senority, the less likely you would be layed off, if a lay off situation occurred. You didn't have experienced people pushed out the door in order to hire less experienced at a lower wage.

    7. Job protection. Jobs can't necessarily be arbitrarily eliminated. If technology has taken the place of a worker, the worker is not just "shown the door." There are usually provisions that enable the worker to place at another job that would be considered equal or on par to the one they no longer have. An employer could not just fire anyone arbitrarily, they had to follow a process in order to do so.

    The thing is we have management, physicians, public health, joint commission, HIPPA, ADA, SBONs, government legislature, patients, ETC all having a say in how we do our jobs. In fact everyone and their uncle seems to have a say in how we do our jobs and set THEIR standards in how we do our jobs, EXCEPT US as nurses. Singularly how can we have a voice? Combining as a group with one loud voice is usually when changes can be for made for nurses by nurses and not always through unions necessarily but thorugh organized unification and presentation of a united front. It doesn't necessarily mean all nurses need to belong to a union. This is the biggest problem with the nursing profession, is that we DO NOT stand together in order to effect change. A union isn't supposed to be another level of bureaucracy for us to wade through, it is supposed to be a "tool" for employees to protect their rights, effect change for a better workplace, and a recourse if they feel they have been violated. If a union is not organized and ineffective, it will not do any of these things. A union isn't supposed to take your voice away from you, nor is it necessarily going to give you a better workplace. If union members are complacent and non-participatory it is going to serve little use in the workplace.

    A union does not take away an employees right to make decisions, unless they choose to give that right away. When you don't go to meetings and allow others to further their own agendas is when you give that right away. For instance, if one department like ICU or ER are very active in their union and other departments are not, the chances are the only issues that will be addressed and given priority will be those of ICU or ER. If done properly, a union can be an advocte or a voice if you will, for any group of employees. If not done properly, it can be essentially useless. The bottom line is: a union is only as strong and as cohesive as it's members.

    Basically folks, my post is based on my own personal experience. I have worked at a unionized hospital and what I posted was in regards to my experience there. I also have numerous friends and family members who are employed by the Big Three and comments in regards to the Big Three are based on discussions of the differences in how unions operated where they employed as opposed to where I was employed. This is why the post is comparing the two settings.

    The fact is, the union was not strong and unified where I was, people complained alot about the union yet would not participate within the union, in effect they wanted the union to do the work and sit back. The general attitude was that people felt the union did nothing for them. DUH, if you don't participate it isn't going to do anything for you. Problem was the "union" was them, not some mythical entity that was supposed to magically make the workplace better. The union members at the hospital were essentially not pro-union in their attitudes as compared to the Big Three union members.

    I have worked in a unionized facility and am currently working in a non-union environment. Little, if any difference between the two facilities. A union is only going to effect change only if union members participate in that change.

    My only advice to those thinking about organizing a union is this: DO IT RIGHT OR DON'T BOTHER DOING IT AT ALL. A union will not magically transform a workplace simply because it has been brought in. A UNION WILL ONLY BE AS STRONG AS IT'S MEMBERS.

    I will reiterate: The biggest problem IMO with the nursing profession is that we do not stand together in order to effect change with or without unions.

    :yeahthat: Well, well said.

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