<How do nurses work under protest if they are not under the protection of a union?>
You put a complaint in writing to your DON & keep a copy for yourself. All it can do is give you some protection should something go wrong that shift, so you arent left holding the bag alone. Your written complaint has no power to change anything. The thing with being a union is that you do have a say in these things and can force change to happen.
As you are, if you put in writing a note to your DON about the unsafe conditions, you really have no protection if they decide to retaliate against you for being a "troublemaker". Become a union and you have the legal rights and protections that go with it......problem solved.
In NY, we dont have staffing/mandatory ot legislation passed into law yet, but nurses in our union (our state nurses assoc) wrote the legislation on it. Its now a bill currently in debate in the state legislature and it has a lot of support. In the meantime, we have our union contracts that specify safe staffing ratios & guidelines and restrict or prohibit mandatory OT completely at our individual facilities.
In order to fill the holes left by not being able to use mandatory OT, our hospitals have had to make themselves more attractive to nurses in other ways to entice them to take the vacant jobs - like improving salary, benefits, pensions, re-instituting flex-time and getting creative with other enticements too. Heres an example of what we're doing in NYC..... (of course we're strongly unionized so we CAN do these things).......
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 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. >>>>>>>