Advantages/disadvantages with unionization?

Nurses General Nursing


I've been both in both union and non-union clinical settings as an RN. The non-union settings varied but tended to be very erratic on raises, bonuses and benefits. You never knew if they would be there tomorrow. Pension plans could change or be eliminated overnight. As a union RN, I have gotten steady raises and can only be fired for cause. I have an organization keeping an eye on my benefits and my pension is one of the best in the country. My union dues are high IMHO at 550$ a year but you can deduct them as a business expense if you itemize. I never thought I'd be in a union but I do like it. An example:

In my current job I have a specific description as a consultant. A political appointee wanted me to also become an employee health RN for the 4,000 employees--NOT in my job description. My union came to the table with the following....either reclassify the job with a lot more money or drop the employee health demand. It stopped being an issue that day. Never heard anything else about being an employee health RN!


176 Posts

In 1967, it was a union that picked me up and gave me direction in my life (at that time it was printing)

I have never worked in a union health related facility, but feel the only thing negative would be coming from those that would be complaining about something anyway.



6,620 Posts

I worked in the States at a non-union place and am now in Canada where all nurses are unionized and I wouldn't go back to a non-union job for anything. I think a union is only as good as its members, but at least when something happens or management tries to screw you there is a place to adress it.

The pay issue isn't clear cut. When I was in the States most of the nurses in union jobs made more, but here in Canada where we are all unionized nurses aren't paid well (about 18$US is the max here). But, I definitely feel like I have a louder voice thanks to the union. If enough members have the same concern a union can represent them. As a nurse in a right to work job I had no voice.


237 Posts

Originally posted by Joy Shepard:

Just curious. What are the benefits versus disadvantages for nurses with unionization? All the health care facilities in my state are "right to work" or "at will" institutions. Is unionization all it is hyped up to be or just another "Animal Farm"-type solution that still leaves nurses disenfranchized without any ownership in their practice environments? Would really like to hear from nurses who work in union hospitals. Any experiences or opinions?

I've worked in a union hospital for over 20 years and feel that it HAS helped in many situations. During layoffs, those with experience and seniority had their jobs protected. People who were fully competent, but not management favorites because they adocated for themselves or patient's rights, had their jobs protected and were not harrassed by management. However, burnt out, incompetent nurses who probably would be terminated in non-union hospitals were also protected by the union.I've seen jobs that should have gone to a younger, more dynamic nurse go to one who had more seniority and who has done a mediocre job. I have found that the quality of the union reps make a big difference in how things run in the union.

In Massachusetts, the MNA is trying to disaffiliate from the ANA, and there is a hard sell on both sides to get our vote. I am puzzled--any ideas on which way YOU would vote?I know we need a united voice-that has been our downfall in the past-but if we splinter from the larger group, what power will we have?


48 Posts

:) :) :)

OC_An Khe

1,018 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED.

I have worked in both union and non-union enviroments. I will always choose union fcilities over non union. I don't have direct expirirence in working in those states that are right to work states, but what I learned is that it makes unionization much harder to obtain and its effectiveness can be diminished.

I agree with the above posters with regards to what makes a good union. The benefits of knowing that rules and compensation can't be changed at some adninistrators whim is well worth the dues I pay. Can you be "called of" cancelled because of low census? In my facility you can't be. If you are hired for 40 hours you receive 40 pay and benefits no matter what the census. If this facility wasn't unionized cancellation would occurr.

Specializes in ER.

For all intents and purposes, I agree with Enright..I have worked both sides of the fence...My biggest complaint with being unionized is that the slackers are there to stay!!! That may be the price to pay for security, steady raises and decent working conditions though.


Specializes in Hospice and palliative care.


You should check out the website for the California Nurses' Association ( CNA broke away from the national organization several years ago; recently PA did also. CNA is considered one of the strongest and most progressive unions for nurses in the country. As with anything, there are good and bad points to a union (as Ted said, the "slackers" get the same protections as the hardworking nurses get). If you are in doubt, you should try to contact someone from CA or PA about the big split. Good luck to you regardless of what you decide. When will a vote take place to decide the issue?


PS PASNAP's site is

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