How powerful are hospital unions?

  1. Just curious....

    I start my first job as a GN at a large hospital that is unionized in August. During my interview, I was told that the staffing on the floor I will work on (telemetry) is 4:1.

    Based on your experiences, are unions strict on ratios and can I consider 4:1 a promise? I'm new to all this union stuff so I'd appreciate it if someone can explain to me and explain if the ratios are mandatory!

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    Joined: May '11; Posts: 68; Likes: 100
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  3. by   MunoRN
    If you're in California then you can pretty much count on that ratio since it's law.

    I'm not aware of any unions that have managed to get ratios established in their contract language, but if any were to achieve that it would most likely be the NNU (The NNU was formed by the California Nurses Union, and others, which established the Cal. ratios). In terms of power, it depends on the union. The ANA has been pretty weak on working towards mandated ratios; ANA backed state laws regarding ratios have had absolutely no purpose, and they haven't chosen to include safe ratios in their affiliated incentive programs such as Beacon and Magnet.
  4. by   merlee
    It's very dependant on where you work. Some unions are fairly powerful, and the ratios are part of the contract as well as many other aspects of your job, and some are not very effective.

    I've worked at both types of places.

    Best wishes!!
  5. by   AgentBeast
    How powerful are hospital unions?

    Not nearly as powerful as my union of one, or at least that's what I tell myself.
  6. by   tokmom
    Some unions are strong and others are not. As for the staffing, look at the contract. If it's in there, then they cannot raise the ratio unless there is a clause to do so (in a disaster etc).

    I know of hospitals around me that won the 4:1 ratio. It's the same union that I'm currently under. Not NNU.

    We did try to get a 4:1 staffing ratio, but management refused to put it in the contract. However, they have kept it at 4:1.
  7. by   suanna
    As a rule hospital/nursing unions ensure equal treatment- not good treatment. I work in one of the strongest nursing unions in the eastern USA and we have never been able to negotiate hard ratio numbers. That always falls under "management rights" and is non-negotiable. What you can expect from a union is backing and support if you have a manager or supervisor making unfair complaints about your care, or scheduling you in a manner that is inconsistant with established protocals. The union should be ensuring you are given a position for which you are qualified and have seniority. Usually unions establish wages, benefit costs, paid time off rules, anad job mobility rules. Anything beyond that is unusual.
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
  9. by   whatever...
    As far as it goes, like everyone says, it depends on your union plus the state you live in (weither your states likes or dislikes unions). But some people forget to remember that you are your best represenitive, not some political-minded yahoo. If you don't like the way management runs things, quit and go elsewhere. If you don't like the benefits offered, quit and go elsewhere. If you feel your voice is not heard or the standards not to your liking.....quit and go elsewhere. I am pretty sure if enough people did that on their own, management and hospitals would get the picture. Remember they DO need us in the long run, so they will listen and make change. But like most Americans, nurses think they are entitled to have everything go their way. The culture of me. But if you want to pay around a hundred dollars a paycheck, or monthly to go to someone who may not your best intrest at heart, go ahead!
  10. by   RN Zeke
    Don't run and hide, stay and work to improve! Organized labor is the best thing out there to help Nurses at this point, especially those that cut and run due to no represantation. Negative attitudes is not what we need, but those willing to work for the patient to nurse ratio, pay, benefits and maybe even a break. A sense of entitlement, YOU bet YA, we take care of HUMANS. Head out of sand please!
  11. by   lindarn
    And where exactly is everyone to go, when hospitals band together, and provide the same lousy pay, benefits, working conditions, there is an oversupply of nurses, so they can pick and choose who they want to hire?

    Right now, hospitals have the upper hand. The ONLY way we are going to win the battle, and ultimately, the war, is by coming together and unionize en masse.

    The NNOC is the only way to go. They have accomplished what no other nursing union has accomplished- staffing ratios, pay, benefits, workplace advocacy, POWER.

    Yes, it can be done.

    JMHO and my NY $0.02.
    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Someplace in the PACNW
  12. by   whatever...
    If you want a big brother over you to tell you what is best for you, instead of your own mind be my guest. Also if you want a safety net for dirt bag nurses who should have been fired many moons ago, be my guest. If you don't mind having to strike for a fifty cent raise, while someone else who is doing your job for five to ten dollars less than you, again be my guest. Perks like patient ratio, unions don't produce (just look at the other comments), better pay, yes but while rising the cost of care. Benefits (health, vision, dental....), would be provided anyway (what hospital couldn't offer any of these and still compete for workers?). At my work, about 5 years ago, we the employees were courted by a union as were another hospital around 15 miles away from us. Long story short, we didn't go union, they did. They have been on strike twice, loss their Blue Cross PPO (Health Net HMO now), and thier ability to discuss any work related subject w/o a union rep with management. All this for what you might ask...a 75 cent raise in those five years, plus 5 extra days a year of vacation, and a lightening of a 154 dollars a month for dues, no to begin to even mention about morale. If that is what a union can do for me, no thanks.
  13. by   herring_RN
    Just as all hospitals are different, unions are not all the same.
    The Professional Association and labor union, California Nurses Association led the campaign for safe staffing ratios. Sufficient staff is essential for safe, effective, therapeutic patient care. Clearly not a "perk", safe staffing prevents preventable deaths due to "failure to rescue".
    Here is an article from 2008:

    Following years of rallies, protests, public hearings and letter writing campaigns by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), AB 394, the first RN-to-patient hospital staffing ratios law, became effective January 1, 2004 in all California acute-care, acute psychiatric and specialty hospitals. The law requires that no RN can be assigned responsibility for more patients than the specific ratio at any time, under any circumstances, based on patient acuity and scope of practice laws.

    As of January 1, 2008, the ratio law completed its "phase-in period" and has now been updated, by the California Department of Health Services (DHS), with new mandated minimum numerical ratios for three units. Step Down has been reduced from 1:4 to 1:3, telemetry from 1:5 to 1:4 and other specialty care units, such as cancer care, from 1:5 to 1:4. These join the other following units already in effect.....

    Healthcare Industry News Features
    Read about ratios in Victoria Australia union contracts - Google Search Results for Victoria, ratios
  14. by   RN Zeke
    This (information)
    speaks for it self. Like it or not, Facts are Facts.