Unions - page 2

I was just wondering peoples views on Unions, from reading other posts I got the inpression that unions are not a standard thing. One of my lectures this semester was two of the big nursing unions... Read More

  1. by   -jt
    <And I can assure you that the nurses in Texas are NOT happy about the way things are going here.>

    Well, unionized nurses from Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois & NY tried to tell the executives from the Texas Nurses Association that very same thing, but there is so much animosity from them against unionized nurses that there is just no talking to them. They sit in their offices & think everything is coming up yellow roses for all nurses in Texas. If the TNA does not wish to provide collective bargaining services for nurses in Texas, thats fine - its their perogative. But if nurses in Texas want that service, and the TNA wont provide it, the TNA also should not try to block any other professional nurse association from providing the service for them - which is just what the nurse executives in Texas promised - in writing - to do: BLOCK any effort by any professional nurses association to bring collective bargaining services to Texas nurses - even the ones who arent even members of the TNA. I mean who the heck does the TNA think it is to dictate that all nurses in Texas (most of whom dont even belong to the TNA) will be denied their right to organize?

    Fine for the TNA to make its own decision for itself, but does it have the right to make decisions for every nurse in Texas - most of whom they arent even involved with since most nurses in their state dont join that organization? TNA will just have to learn to understand that when nurses in Texas want & ask for collective bargaining representation, they will get it, & the TNA cant do anything about it because nurses have a federal right to collective bargaining & to join a union of their choosing.

    BTW, professional nurses unions do not approach nurses & try to get them to unionize. Professional nurse's unions go to the nurses after the nurses have contacted them & asked them to.

    Anyway, just joining any old union and expecting all the problems to be magically solved is not going to be an answer. Being represented by a professional nurses association with a major focus on the direct-care nurses issues and with a strong collective bargaining mission has been the only answer for hundreds of thousands of us.

    Comparing union representation by a professional nurses association to the experiences of family members who were not nurses & were in their own trade unions is like comparing apples & oranges. The professional nurses association union is a far different entity than grandpa's workers union.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 6, '01
  2. by   Jenny P
    Julie, as usual, you said it loud and clear- being a member of just any union ISN'T the same as being a member of a Professional Nurses Union. I've worked at non-unionized facilities; facilities that were unionized but not by nurses (that also includes a state employees' union), and also facilities that nurses are represented by Nurses Associations. I much prefer the latter. I appreciate the collective bargaining done by nurses who understand what nursing is and what we need to deal with on a day to day basis. If you've ever had your hours made by someone who has never worked shifts before, and then had them done by someone who has, you may be able to understand the difference between unions represented by non nurses, and nursing unions with nursing associations doing the collective bargaining. The differences can make or break your work life and your career!
    And, of course, there is nothing quite as powerful as a union where the members are involved and active. If 90% of the members of a nursing union were involved even to the extent of just attending 6-8 meetings a year; there would be the most powerful voice for nursing you would ever imagine!
    Hey, I can dream, can't I?
  3. by   -jt
    <i think it all depends on the union. i know that one of our sister hospitals is union, but its the service workers union, same as in grocery stores.
    why bother? >

    In the early 80's, nurses at the facility I worked at also were unionized by the service workers union that all the other employees belonged to. There were 700 RNs & 2,300 other employees. Guess whose issues kept getting put on the back burner because the majority (non-nurses) had other issues they needed dealt with? Guess who couldnt get the group & its leaders to understand the problem we had with floating to unfamiliar units or getting time off for continuing education either. After all, the houskeepers worked floor to floor and they had no problem, so why cant a med-surg RN from the 5th floor go work in the 3rd floor ICU if its short one night? And who do those nurses think they are demanding to be paid more than $20/hr when all they do is chart all day? Needless to say, we did not feel we were well-represented so we decertified from that union and voted in our state nurses association as our new union. And our professional issues were the major focus from day 1.

    The negotitations at that time, & ever since, focused on our professional issues. The first day of our new contract in 1984, our salaries jumped more than 20% overnight, we had floating restrictions, continuing education paid for, tuition reimbursement, paid time off for attending seminars, specialty certification compensation, degree differentials, experience pay, etc - none of which the previous union ever considered because it was too busy with the majority of the other workers & their problems.

    I heard things have changed over at the service union & they now have a separate branch for just nurses and even have representatitves who are nurses & have even used our unions contracts as models for their own. Thats an improvement from when we were dealing with the service workers union. But still, I will never again work in a facility where the union is not my professional state nurses association.
  4. by   OneChattyNurse
    I work at the VA and the union is present, but I have not been approached by them and am not a member. I have to admit, I really know VERY little about the union or it's function. I have seen some things that seem good, but also some other things that are not. Both have been union negotiated changes. It does seem to me that where I am, the union has benefitted those that try to break and/or streatch the rules and policies. They also became involved with the evaluation process. A Nurse Manager can no longer tell you what you have done that is good or bad since your last evaluation. They can simply state if you are satisfactory or unsatisfactory. So much for being praised if you do a good job, or getting the chance to fix something that you need to improve on. Anyway...these are just uneducated observations that I have made, so I really have no basis to state any true pros/cons to the issue. I guess I am just undecided as to whether I want to persue membership or not.

  5. by   OC_An Khe
    All wel and good if your state nurses association wants to be involved in collective bargaining, but what do you do when they don't wnt to be involved? Who do you turn to?
  6. by   KARRN3
  7. by   -jt
    <All wel and good if your state nurses association wants to be involved in collective bargaining, but what do you do when they don't wnt to be involved? Who do you turn to?>

    The same place nurses in the non-collective bargaining New Jersey Nurses Association turned to when faced with the same situation:

    "Welcome to UAN - The Union for Nurses, by Nurses

    UAN and Organizing:

    'Signposts on The Road to Organizing' is a new UAN web site that tracks the steps involved in organizing a union from the first phone call to the final vote in an quick, easy-to-follow format. "

    See http://www.uannurse.org/uan/organize/

    "It's high time that all registered nurses were equal partners with administrators in making the decisions that count about patients, nursing practice, hours of work -- all the terms and conditions that affect the working life of nurses.

    The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, is the union by nurses, for nurses. UAN nurses benefit from the power of over 100,000 RN colleagues across the country making their own decisions for safe staffing, healthy work environments, fair wages, dignity and security. "

    Last edit by ElvishDNP on Nov 7, '08 : Reason: removing phone # and email address
  8. by   bbnurse
    It seems that you have major issues with your administration or at least some have had issues that the unions resolved for you.
    Our local hospitals have always paid education time for inservices, costs of continuing education, provided competitive salaries and don't sit complacently on their posteriors looking down on us. We have input on the schedules, call and equal treatment. While occassional issues arise, the people in power do actually listen and attempt to resolve them. So, we see no reason for unions. We can negotiate our own needs. AND it all saves us (and the hospital) money. We can grow d/t constructive evaluations and praise. We know the hospital will survive .We have no need to send the unions money.
    Nurses need more than a union to fix the issues. They need to be fully present in the moment and face the issues where they are, as the situations present themselves to us. We say we love mankind, yet we flip our finger at the driver who cuts in ahead of us, who does happen to be part of mankind. Where do we draw the line? We say things are wrong with our admin. or the way we are treated so we want the unions to fix it?? Isn't that short sighted and lazy?
    I expect to take a big hit on these thoughts, but it is just my opinion that things have the potential to change but it is like the joke "How do you eat an elephant?".....one bite at a time. We can face and fix one issue at a time, wherever we are. It takes tenacity and determination but it must be done. I'd rather fight my own battles than depend on someone who has an alternative motive for their behaviors. I know what must change here, where I am. You know what must change where you are. Why let someone else send up the clammor and confuse the issues?? Why not fix your issue while I fix mine and the whole of nursing begins to heal itself? I think it is possible to do that.
    No great oration here....just rambling philosophy...but thanks for reading my opinion. Make a difference where you are.
  9. by   -jt
    <Why let someone else send up the clammor and confuse the issues??>

    What someone else? WE are the ones doing the talking.... the RNs at the facility.....together.... as one organization. The nurses at a unionized facility dont HAVE a union. They ARE a union.

    You may have noticed lots of people posting that "the union" doesnt solve anybodys problems for them. Thats true. Its the NURSES who are their union and solve the problems for themselves....together.

    They are active as a union representing themselves, and far from being lazy, unionized nurses are the ones getting things done - at their facility, at their state Capitol & in Washington DC.

    I dont understand why so many people say that there is "someone else" doing the talking for us. The RNs are the ones at the negotiation tables & the labor/management committees. The union rep is the expert there to hold the law up behind us but its US bringing the issues forth & fixing things for ourselves.

    Maybe other peoples perception of unions is different from what we actually experience with our professional nurses association & thats where their confusion comes from.

    Its nice that there is a facility out there that lets its nurses have a say without being forced to do so by law. Magnet hospitals are like that but there are only a handful in the whole nation. Unfortunately, not many nurses get to be so lucky with their employers. Other nurses prefer not to leave it all up to luck & the good graces of their employer. They want to have everything that your employer lets you have - but they want it guaranteed in legally binding writing - and not dependent on what the employer decides to allow - because in business things change & what is allowed today may not be allowed tomorrow - unless its guaranteed in writing.

    What happens when the co-operative employer leaves the facility or somebody decides that some things are too expensive now or the profit margin wasnt reached & they cease to allow certain items cutting them down or eliminating them altogether? It happens very very often. Just ask nurses in Kansas City right now for one example. But it cant happen if the nurses are a union because whatever they have is all guaranteed in writing. When the nurses arent a union, everything they have can just disappear on some administrators recommendation & theres not a legal leg the non-union nurses can stand on to stop it.

    Thats the difference.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 16, '01
  10. by   cmrn
    JT you have a great insight on unions and present the information well (ie nurses are not in a union, they are the union). Too many expect to pay dues (money) and have someone else take care of the problems. There are very few problems in life you can throw money at and get desirable results. You have to be willing to stand up and take an active part in your representation or it will fail and you will blame the union as being bad. It is only as strong as its weakest link ( and I don't mean the game show!) i know this is a run of cliches' but they are all applicable. The salaries here in Houston just began their upward climb with the nursing shortage. When one hospital nearly doubled the hourly rate to woo nurses away others had to respond in kind in an effort to keep what they had or to be able to replace what they were loosing. Along the same line, the nurse who works along sie of me didn't get a raise this year, in spite of the fact that she held the MDS office together through some very difficult times, because she is in a FLEX agreement and that group doesn't necessarily receive raises just because it is evaluation time and the evaluation was asbove average. This is one of the injustices I see and abhor. We all work for a living and need to be rewarded for our hard work.
  11. by   -jt
    Thank you.

    Just wondering - what is a FLEX arrangement and why did it prevent that nurse from receiving an increase the same as the other nurses? Is she considered management, or is she a staff nurse who is being shown that she is somehow less valuable than the other staff nurses? Such is the atrocity of the "merit system" for determining salaries. In the past, NYSNA Nurses in NY struck for weeks to keep it out of here & they succeeded. We still have no such thing as a "merit system" determining our salaries.

    Everytime I read one of those posts where people write their impressions of what "The Union" is, how "The Union" pushes its way in to take over, & how the staff doesnt want a "third party speaking for" them, I have to wonder where in the world they got these ideas of what a union of Nurses does & also why they consider the nurses to be a "third party outsider" at their own facility.

    I get the impression that some people have a mental image of "The Union" as this outside agency with some big bad guys in suits, chomping cigars, wearing fedoras, driving Cadillacs, with an interest only in the roll of 100s in their pockets... and maybe even being in cahoots with the employer. Ok, maybe some unions did have a history like that or we wouldnt have all those mob movies from the '40s but they were not Nurses.

    I have never ever seen a professional association that is made up of Nurses & represents Nurses be anything like this image.

    Id be glad to help people with their perception of what a union of NURSES is & I extend this invitation:

    Any nurse who is planning a visit to NYC (and lots of people are doing that right now specfically to see Ground Zero), turn right from there & walk east - up Wall St - to the NYSNA Collective Bargaining Union Headquarters opposite the South Street Seaport. Theyll be happy to give you a tour, show you around, what theyre working on, what has been accomplished, what the nurses of that union are doing. Everything you want to know about being a union of nurses in a nurses professional organization. Theyll probably even give you lots of information to take home as a souvenir. If any nurse ever finds herself in the Albany area upstate, do the same at the associations main NY State Nurses Association headquaters there - what our executive director likes to call "The House That RNs Built".

    And Ill guarantee you wont find any brass knuckles in either place.

    Just mostly strong, outspoken RNs - and their fearless leader (executive director) - an RN from Georgia! (Believe it!! the incredible, highly successful, champion-model RN association, the NY State Nurses Association, is directed by a pro-union Southern Nurse from Georgia!!! Who woulda guessed, huh? )

    Back Downtown in Manhattan, you could take a short walk in any direction & visit union nurses of this association at their workplaces (this city's direct-care RNs are 99.9999999% unionized). They'll be very proud to show you what theyve done as a union.

    And Ill bet not one of them smokes a cigar.

    Then stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge & come visit me!

    Sit in on a grievance or observe our labor/management meeting that month. But dont be disappointed cause there wont be any fat guy in a fedora at the table - its just the 6 of us RNs elected by our colleagues to represent them at our facility, any other staff RN who wants to attend, another RN who is a labor specialist/rep from our headquarters on Wall St - and the entire upper level of our facility's nursing administration.

    But not a roll of 100 $$ bills in the bunch!
  12. by   cmrn
    I absolutely LOVE your description of what most people probably think of in reference to the word "UNION". It seems to spark fear in most sensible people. I understand the misconception because back in the early 60's my soon to be father-in-law was approached by "THE UNION" at their warehouse in San Antonio to spearhead the movement. When he declined, he had a few "Accidents" and ultimately joined. These tricks are a thing of the past, yes even in the South! Unions are invited into a business to assist the employees not badger or injure them. The movie persona does not exist for the most part. As I said in a previous post, my ex-husband was the president of the OCAW local for many years. I ate with, traveled with, and visited with the execs of this union and they were there to assist the membership to have their voices heard and protect them from wrongful punishment and termination. They may not be the be all to end all but in this area it is a necessity.
    To answer your question, FLEX is a part time employee, 32 hours per week or less, who is paid more hourly (ha, ha) because they opt out of benefits (insurance, retirement, 403B, paid holidays, paid vacation, etc). When she told me that she received no raise I was livid. I wanted to take it up a level, but she declined. I have since been approached about becoming the DON of this unit and I am really having reservations about even interviewing. The system isn't a good one, I have been lucky to work for some really great directors so I'm not hurting. But, I know many who are.
  13. by   wildtime88

    I like your words. I wish I would have said something like that.

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