Survey: Would you cross a picket line when RNs were striking? - page 12

This months survey question: Would you cross a picket line when RNs were striking (at your own hospital or another)? Yes or No? FYI: Here are the results from this survey: Q: Would you... Read More

  1. by   betts
    Wish they were here in Virginia.
  2. by   RNPD
    But understand that striking does not accomplish any thing!!!!! The hospital will "write off" the extra expenses incurred and they will keep you out on strike until they have recouped what they will offer at the table -- when it will benefit them the most.~rjlrn95


    Yes we have freedom of speech and action, but when someone posts an inaccuracy as fact, then it needs to be corrected. The above is actually wrong. Most strikes are not about money-although wages are important in order to attract & retain the best nursing staff. However, do a little search and read about most of the recent US strikes in the past 2 years. In just about every one the nurses were able to obtain contracts that either eliminated, or severely restricted, mandatory overtime. Most were able to get staffing provisions added. So striking actually accomplishes very much. We may not get it all the first time, but each gain makes us stronger for the next fight. Eventually, the PROFESSION will reap the benefits-maybe not during my career lifetime, but perhaps during the next generation or the one after that. Labor unions in their infancy weren't strong, but look at some of them now!

    But in the end, I agree it is a shame that we need to rely on unions. If only our employers saw us as the professionals we are, and treated us accordingly, there would be no need for unions. It is only when conditions become intolerable despite the best efforts of the individuals to better them that unions are brought into the picture.
  3. by   -jt
    <Wish they were here in Virginia.>

    ??? Who's "they"?

    What I was referring to is an organization of RNs. The RNs are "they". It isnt anybody else. Nobody comes in & 'recruits' the nurses to the organization. If the RNs in Virginia want to be part of it all they have to do is contact that RN organization & do it.
  4. by   -jt
    <they will keep you out on strike until they have recouped what they will offer at the table>

    huh? Sorry but youre wrong. It doesnt work that way.
  5. by   -jt
    This is why nurses strike:

    For Immediate Release

    St. Catherine's Nurses Vote to Strike -

    Deadline for agreement to improve working conditions is Nov. 26

    SMITHTOWN, NY - Nov. 15, 2001 - This evening, the registered nurses of St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center filed notice that they will strike at 7 a.m., Monday, November 26.

    The nurses served hospital management with the strike notice on Thursday, Nov. 15, and will begin the strike at 7 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26. The two sides last met on Nov. 8, but to no avail. No further negotiating sessions are scheduled.

    For years, working conditions for RNs at St. Catherine have been deteriorating. Despite being cited by the state Health Department in 1998 for numerous problems, the hospital is still forcing RNs to handle too many patients and work too much overtime. The danger to patient care is increasing, yet hospital management has done little about it. Frustrated, the nurses voted on Nov. 13 and 14 to authorize a strike should no further progress be made in negotiations with hospital administrators.

    The 474 RNs, members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), have been working without a contract since May 15. The nurses have been trying through negotiations to resolve the many workplace problems that are driving experienced nurses away and discouraging qualified nurses from applying:

    Staffing - St. Catherine's officials are refusing to re-establish an enforceable set of RN-to-patient staffing guidelines that would ensure each patient's safety. The nurses had won such guidelines in 1999, but the hospital forced the nurses to give them up during the sale of the hospital last year under threat that the hospital would close if the sale did not go through. The nurses gave up the staffing guidelines at the time, in order to keep the hospital from closing, but expected to come back to the issue later.

    Overtime - Instead of maintaining enough RNs to meet its scheduling needs, the hospital is forcing nurses from previous shifts to work overtime - a practice that tires nurses and endangers patients.

    Health Coverage - As a means of helping the hospital recruit and retain qualified nurses, NYSNA is offering a health and benefits plan that is superior to the hospital's plan and is competitively priced. Yet the hospital is claiming the cost of conversion is too high, citing figures that NYSNA believes to be inflated.

    12-Hour Shifts - Hospital administration is not willing to guarantee the nurses' right to work "flextime," a schedule of three 12-hour shifts per week that provides better continuity of patient care throughout the day and is a valuable tool for attracting nurses.

    "Everything the nurses are asking for is reasonable," said Michael Chacon, RN, NYSNA nursing representative. "They're not asking for anything outlandish. The nurses just want to be able to create conditions that will improve staffing and enable them to provide the best care possible." How much more time should the nurses have to wait for the administration to decide to take negotiations seriously? NO MORE!

    With over 33,000 members, NYSNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in New York state, a constituent member of the American Nurses Association, a founder of the United American Nurses National RN Labor Union (AFL-CIO affiliate), and is one of the largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. A multipurpose organization, NYSNA fosters high standards for nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA: 518.782.9400, ext. 353.
  6. by   -jt
    <So striking actually accomplishes very much.>

    And in the government hospitals where they are forbidden by law from striking, mass resignations get the same results.......

    Heres a sample of how nurses in unity can take on a Giant ... and the far-reaching impact it has when we do......

    <<City In Crisis:

    New York City's municipal (city) hospitals had undergone years of neglect. Buildings were deteriorating, supplies were deficient, and equipment was antiquated and unsafe. Nurses were saddled with a host of non-nursing functions - from distributing linen to substituting for pharmacists - and the situation was worsening The hospitals were severely understaffed, with only 3,400 of 8,000 professional nursing positions filled. Receiving an annual starting salary of $5,150 for a 40 hour work-week, nurses were paid less than city garbage collectors. Nurses were leaving daily for jobs in New York's voluntary hospitals where salaries were better, supplies and equipment were more plentiful and staffing levels averaged 80%.

    An article in the New York Daily News described what a new graduate nurse could expect in a city hospital: "After 3 years of hard work and dedicated study...She will work 40 hours a week, not including the half-hour allowed for meals. The half-hour meal period will become academic because she will usually be so busy she wont have a chance to eat. The new nurse will find that she is responsible for municipal wards, sometimes 70 or 80 patients. If there isnt enough time in her 8 hour shift to do all her work (as is often the case), and she is required to stay overtime, she will receive no extra pay. How long will the nurse stay in the city hospital?"

    When John Lindsay campaigned for mayor of New York, he published a White Paper on conditions in the city hospitals. His proposal to "restore the status of nurses and to attract nurses of high caliber to bring our hospitals back up to the standard of excellence which they should set," secured the votes of countless nurses and raised their hopes for better days ahead.

    Contract proposals developed by the bargaining unit's nurses and presented to the city in October closely reflected the Mayor-elect's recommendations. These proposals included salary increases to make the city hospitals salaries "in any way competitive with the local voluntary hospital for a dwindling supply of Registered Professional Nurses." Premium compensation for over -time, holidays, and weekend work was proposed to remedy the practice of
    giving nurses only the equivalent time off for overtime and holidays.

    Veronica Driscoll explained "they dont ususally even get that because there would be literally no professional nurses left to cover wards and floors if they took the time off later".

    Other proposals included additional pay for prior experience and education, fully paid health insurance and a shortened work week. City officials, however, were reluctant to enter into negotiations before the Lindsay adminsitration took office, and the contract expired with no agreement in place.

    In January, representatives of the nurses sent Mayor Lindsay a congratulatory letter reminding him of his campaign promises, but the nurses were bitterly disappointed when the city offered only a one-grade salary increase and rejected all other proposals. The bargaining team, composed of unit representative nurses Beatrice Shorr, Ruth Wasserman, and Marguerite Thibodeau, NYSNA staff members Mary Finnin and Veronica Driscoll, and NYSNA attorney Robert Jones, refused the citys counter-proposal. Negotiations quickly reached an impasse. In February, NYSNA requested mediation and fact-finding arbitration proceedings.

    Discouraged by the delay and lack of progress, it was a difficult period for both NYSNA staff and the nurses. Bargaining units began to meet more frequently to keep its members informed and meetings grew increasingly intense as unit leader nurses struggled to hold their groups together. Discussion turned to "what do we have to fight with?" Bellevue's bargaining unit chairman Mary Tomaselli, RN, raised the issue of mass resignation.

    Standing up to give a speech with her knees knocking she said "People are resigning from here every week. The impact is not dramatic... suppose 200 of us went at the same time?"
    The decision to resign was not an easy one, and discussion continued for several weeks.

    Nurses who resigned would lose pensions and vacation time, and many were graduates of the hospital's school of nursing, and intensely loyal to the hospital. "Bellevue has been good to me..... theres an internal kind of fight while standing up trying to convince people to do this, saying to yourself 'when push comes to shove, am I going to do it?' Am I going to have the guts to do it?"

    As the bargaining units struggled to plan their next steps, mediation sessions were held. NYSNA Assistant Executive Secretary Mary Finnin describes the sessions: "We presented our proposals; the city presented its refusals." Extensive radio, newspaper, and TV coverage on the plight of the nurses and conditions at the hospitals raised public awareness:

    "The nurses in city hospitals have always put the welfare of their patients first. There has never been a threat to strike at the hospitals by the nurses. But our members throughout the city are threatening to resign en mass if steps are not taken to alleviate the critical nurses situation."

    The frustration of the nurses was vividly described: "The care given is inadequate and substandard, not because the nurses are not trying or dont care, but simply because it is physically impossible for them to do the work assigned....Day after day, Im required to violate my principles and the principles of my profession. I would rather resign than see this continue."

    In April, the nurses frustration reached a climax. Forty-one nurses in the Bronx Hospital Center bargaining unit, chaired by Margot Hahn, spontaneously submitted their resignations. Veronica driscoll reported to the Board of Directors, "The nurses believe they can no longer condone conditions which are legally, professionally, ethically, and physically indefensible." The day following the 41 Bronx resignations, Mary Tomaselli and other nurses at Bellevue resigned. "... it was a very stressful time, it was a very uncertain time for us, because it was new ground, it was something that we just never thought we would be doing. You know, we just dont do these things like this."

    Nurses at other city hospitals quickly followed suit. In all, 1,480 nurses - nearly half of all the nurses employed by the citys Department of Hospitals - submitted resignations effective May 23rd.

    After 8 mediation sessions, the city finally agreed to submit the dispute to fact-finding arbitration. NYSNA brought in expert nursing witnesses, nurses holding various positions in city hospitals, schools of nursing board members, and physicians to support the nurses demands, while the hospitals braced for the impending resignations by reducing admissions and preparing patients for discharge. The fact-finder terminated proceedings on May 17 because of the impending crisis. Late the following night, the city and the nurses agreed to accept the fact-finders report.

    The agreement raised salaries to $6,400 by the following January. Shift differentials were increased; education, and experience were taken into consideration; and tuition assistance was established. Neither over-time nor the shorter work-week were included then (although NYSNA did achieve those later) but the fact-finders report called for a short study on non- nursing duties. "Perhaps more than anything else, this assures the nurses that their rights to function as professional persons at long last was recognized."

    The fact-finder summed up the decisions, "The over-riding consideration here is the forthwith resolution of this dispute so that essential nursing services in the city hospitals will not further be disrupted nor the morale of this highly-skilled, dedicated, and loyal professional group be permitted to deteriorate."

    Jubliant nurses, relieved that the ordeal was finally over, rejoiced in the results of professionals joining together to improve their working conditions.

    An editorial in the American Journal of Nursing noted, " The remarkable outcome of this story is that the administration of the largest city in this country had to bow to a fantastically effective combination of forces. There was the grim determination of half the city hospital nurses to seek work elsewhere if the administration failed to come through with a settlement which could attract other nurses. And, in NYSNA, the nurses had a sophisticated professional nursing organization representing them, using impeccable and skillful political, negotiating, and public relations techniques....

    Professional nurses have proved that they could succeed in the big game of labor disputes".

    The settlement had both local and NATIONAL impact. Within 24 hours, New York City voluntary hospitals were now considering raising salries to compete with the municipal hospitals and Mayor Lindsay lifted a job hiring freeze on non-professional positions, thus relieving the nurses of non-professional duties. A NATIONAL salary goal of $6,500 per year was adopted by the ANA and the city nurses received special commendations:

    "To a degree more apparent than in many years, NYSNAs efforts were successful in improving the economic and professional status of many nurses directly, and of all nurses by precedent and through inspiration. The very success of the NY nurses represented by NYSNA is credited at the San Francisco ANA Convention with providing the impetus for the adoption of ANA's first National Salary Goal. This in turn strengthens the real economic security of every career nurse now and in the future"

    Widely publicized in the public and professional press, suddenly nurses were aware of their plight and raised their voices by organizing...... and organizing with NYSNA... all across the state.

    (The items that the city hospital nurses of NYSNA's District 13 fought for & won raised the bar for nursing throughout New York, became standard items in NYSNA contracts, and remain so to this day. The city hospital nurses of District 13 - Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx - fought the fight and when they won, all of NYs nurses won. Setting precendent for nurse's working conditons, salaries, compensation and work-day, they also raised the standard for nurses all across the country.
    NYSNA reaffirmed its place as the leader and model for representing nurses with collective bargaining)

    The year was 1966 when the battle began and 1967 when it was won by these courageous RNs. It was at this time that NYSNA began reaching out to other professional groups and the AFL-CIO to form a coalition.....>>
    excerpt from Honoring Our Past - Building Our Future
    available from NYSNA at Http://

    So thats how its done.
  7. by   -jt

    I dont care how well they treated us, I still would unionize because I want an equal say in matters that affect my work - an equal say that is legally binding - not a false one that is dependent on their being nice & allowing me to have a say.

    Sometimes just the threat of a strike moves them to make improvements. This group of nurses never actually had to go out - they were just willing to......

    Staten Island University Hospital Nurses and NYSNA
    ABOLISH mandatory overtime, GUARANTEE safe staffing levels

    RNs Approve Contract

    STATEN ISLAND, NYC - Oct. 11, 2001 - For the past three months, intolerable working conditions have made it impossible for Staten Island University Hospital to hire even one registered nurse.

    RNs are hoping this situation will now change with the approval Wednesday evening of a new three-year contract that calls for improvements in the RNs' working environment. The 840 RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). Their most recent three-year contract expired March 31.

    Under the new contract, after February 1, 2002, management can no longer require nurses to work overtime, except during disasters and severe weather conditions.

    "For the past several months," said NYSNA Nursing Representative Laura Kennedy, RN, "instead of hiring enough nurses to meet the hospital's staffing needs, management has been filling vacancies in its schedule by holding nurses over from the previous shift. Such double shifts are exhausting for the nurses and dangerous for patient care."

    ** Provisions to maintain safe RN-to-patient staffing throughout the hospital will be enforceable through third party arbitration.

    The new contract also attempts to correct many of the problems that had been driving veteran nurses away from the hospital and discouraging new nurses from applying:

    * Part of the cause of the present nursing shortage is inadequate compensation. Nurses have reported that they want better pay for the work they do. In this contract, the RNs' base salary will increase by a total of 16% over the life of the contract.

    * The nurses also won increases in additional pay for longevity and for earning specialty certifications.

    * In an effort to retain its more experienced nurses, the hospital has agreed to provide nurses with up to $4,000 per year to pay for health care coverage after they retire.

    * Part-timers who work more days than they are originally hired for will receive bonus pay.

    * The hospital's requirement that experienced RNs who transfer to new units will work rotating shifts for a year was eliminated.

    * RNs working in home care often have to complete an extensive amount of paperwork on their own time. They will now receive 7.5 hours per week for paperwork time.

    This is just a sample of the improvements made with this agreement.
    "University Hospital administration had been telling us for months that they wanted to become a leading employer for registered nurses," said NYSNA Labor Representatives Elaine Charpentier. "The nurses replied that there were a lot of workplace problems that needed correction first. We hope we've now taken the first step."

    With more than 33,000 members, NYSNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in New York state and is one of the largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. A multi-purpose organization, NYSNA fosters high standards for nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA: 518.782.9400, ext. 353. >>>>>>>
  8. by   mcl4
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Jenny P
    [B]I was in the strike in the Twin Cities back in 1984. It involved probably 3/4 of the hospitals in the Twin City area and lasted a little over a month. There were over 5000 nurses involved in that strike- the largest ever at the time. I was so stressed by the whole idea of "abandoning" the patients that I broke out in Chicken Pox instead of my kids getting them! My husband was not the "bread winner" at the time; my salary was our major income. My head nurse was very supportive of the staff nurses' position, even though she had to cross the picket line and work (she was non-contract

    I was a LPN working at a hospital during this strike. The hospital management actually took head nurses to court arguing their positions were management and not a staff position and this ensure they would work during a strike. I had jury duty scheduled during the strike and I received a very angry phone call from my supervisors when I told her I would not reschedule this to another time.

    While the public supported the nurses going on strike in the 80's, this past strike I did not feel they receive this type of support from listening to patients as well as reading editorials in the local paper.
  9. by   CareerRN
    Thanks JT, with your inference to the ANA as being my best hope as a national leader, then I think you just helped me make up my mind.

    I would rather work a strike then belong to the ANA in any form. The thought of supporting the ANA in the form of union dues or in any other form is not palatable.
    Last edit by CareerRN on Nov 18, '01
  10. by   Dave123
    betts - I was not attacking you. If you felt I did then accept my apology for causing you to feel that way. I was stating "my" feelings about unions and strikes, nothing else.

    fergus51- I fully back your "right" to take a stand where you see fit. If you feel you must strike then I feel its important you have that right. I believe for people who do cross, they have the right to do so. We all must choose whats best for us.

    RNPD - You wrote:

    If that's how you feel about your peers and your profession, I would hate to be your enemy. Hell, I would hate to be your FRIEND!
    You sound like a small, selfish person who is out for #1. I feel sorry for you & the twisted way you think.

    As I stated before I support your right to strike. But something that I hold more dear than that and being a Veteran I have fought and served so you have that right is "Free Speech".

    That, I owe you. I am sorry my use of it bothered you to the point of personal attacks.

  11. by   Caro
    I have never and will never cross a picket line.
    I am saddened when my colleagues do cross the picket line , but am outraged at staff who do voluntary overtime during industrial action.
    My union and its members work hard for the gains we make during enterprise bargaining negotiations and I am offended that those nurses who undermine our actions benefit from the conditions and pay increase achieved by our sacrifices.

  12. by   Teshiee
    I know we are nurses who are dedicated to our patients but lets not forget it is not the nurses who are making the patients suffer it is the powers that be. I wish I could say there are alternative ways but it seems strikes do get their attention. After all America has a history of people striking because of the abuse from the big time bosses who are not concerned with real issues but money, a profit margin, and willing to sacrifice his/her staff in the process. I think if nursing didn't require a wage no one would be working now!
  13. by   RyanRN
    I don't get it! Striking nurses strike FOR THE PATIENTS! That is not all that complicated ! UNDERSTAFFING KILLS!!!

    Anyone who suffers the delusion that the "patients will suffer" hasn't got a firm grasp on the situation. or is refusing to see. Do you think that FOR ONE MOMENT there will be patients left alone wandering aimlessing and uncared for around a empty hospital corridor!!! That's just a poor justification and stops progress in nursing!! Patients are moved, diverted, not admitted etc. think realistically and honestly.

    There are a million ways to make quick money for basic living expenses on a temporary basis- per diem, agency etc. I knew one young pregnant newlywed, husband in school who worked nights with me while her hospital was and strike and SHE DIDN'T CROSS ANY LINES!! The loads of cash made by SCABS is very tempting but is made on the back of your fellow professional nurses AND the undercared for patients. You are deluding yourself if you think otherwise.

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