Union, yes or no? - page 3

I am a new nurse and have recently heard that the nurses at my hospital are considering going union. It seems (at least on my unit) that the biggest issue is pay. Are any of you guys union and if... Read More

  1. by   LasVegasRN
    Originally posted by Jenny P
    So is this your big secret, LV??????????
    No, this just came about on Friday, believe it or not.
    I'll post about the "secret" in Off Topic, since it's all done now.
  2. by   NannaNurse
    Man, do I wish we were Union!! I would jump on the bandwagon so fast! My last job, I was one of the Employee Reps for organizing a Union....several of us were fired and we filed suit.....WE WON and the LTC facility had to pay dearly.
    Would I risk it again.....YOU BETCHA!! The union stood behind us, the NLRB (nat. labor relations board) were there for us 100%.
    The owners of the facility put pressure on the other employees ( threatened to shut it down if they voted in the union)....anyway we didn't win the vote......reason why I'm not there. They did have to offer my job back.....I politely told them where they could put that offer

    I wish the best of luck to all who campaign for the Union
  3. by   -jt
    <I have never been in a position where a union decided my pay raise>

    The union doesnt decide your pay raise or anything else for that matter. The NURSES as a whole negotiate what the pay raise & everything else will be with the employer, with the assistance of the labor professionals of their union & then the NURSES all vote on it. The difference is that in a union hospital you know you will get at least your annual raise when its due & that it will be the amount YOU agreed upon when you voted to accept the contract. The manager cant give you less or decide they arent giving raises at all that year because of "the budget" or any other excuse. In addition to the annual set raise, there are other bonuses that the nurses can negotiate, so this one annual raise is not all there is. Personally, I prefer to be the one deciding in advance how much I will be paid rather than leaving that up to some managers arbitrary opinion with a "merit" raise which will really depend on the budget & not my merits at all.

    How do we get people to understand that with an RN union, its not some union official from some office somewhere sitting down with your employer & making all the deals themselves & then telling you what you have to live by. Its the STAFF NURSES at your facility sitting down with your employer & figuring all that stuff out with them THEMSELVES, with the RN union specialists & legal resources sitting next to them. I dont know how the teamsters operate, but a nurses union takes direction from the RNs & does what the RNs want to do. Not the other way around.
    The RNs give the orders to the nurses union. The RNs vote for what they want the union to do. The union officials work for the nurses.

    And if the RNs want to strike for their issues, THEY tell the union officials thats what they want to do & then vote to authorize it. The union cant do anything the nurses dont want. The union doesnt pull the nurses out on strike. Its the other way around - The NURSES vote to bring their union out on strike.

    Long story short - The NURSES who work at the facility are "the union" & its those nurses who make the decisions on what their union will do.

    Ive been union for 18 yrs & never went on strike either. Voted for one in 1996 & 1999 but once we voted to do it, the hospital came to its senses & saw the light, agreed to what we needed & the strikes never had to happen. With the strike vote in 1999, the hospital had been resisting staffing ratios. Once we voted to strike for it, they agreed to the staffing ratios we needed so the strike was canceled before it even started & we've had safe staffing ratios floor by floor, shift by shift, unit by unit ever since.
    Last edit by -jt on Nov 9, '02
  4. by   donmurray
    "Two experiences"
    As the hospital paid you all a raise for not joining a union, then it could be argued that the union DID get you those raises, just by being there as an option.
  5. by   renerian
    The union recommended a nickel or strike........LOL that sucked. WE voted and accepted cause the company already had people there to work and take our places. None of us could afford to live on our strike pay which was only 50 per week. Won't go far for a family of 4.

  6. by   charissa
    I think there is an overall misunderstanding that nursing unions are like regular labor unions. They aren't or at least mine is not. Since it is our union we decide what goes, our pres, and other voted members are people i know personally because they work with ME on MY floors. They dont get some huge salary, they dont really get paid past what the rest of us do by our contract. And since we are affiliated with the ohio nursing assoc. and not some big labor teamsters union we dont have to argue the to uphold our standards or try to make them understand the principles we have to follow, because they follow them themselves. When my mom's old hospital was considering going union, nurses where pulled into indiviual meetings and threated. it was the first and ony time she ever saw the ceo of the hospital after 23 years of working there. Construction workers that were building a cardiac floor were taken to another job because they were caught talking about their union on the job. WHAT ARE THESE HOSPITALS AFRAID OF-THEY ARE AFRAID OF YOU ACTUALLY HAVING A SAY ABOUT YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT AND HAVING TO IMPROVE YOUR STAFFING AND ADDRESS YOUR ISSUES. Without a union they can ignore you forever. Nurses who supported the union had nasty things printed about them in letters the the editor of local papers, and others were afraid to support because of the tactics. There are downfalls, but ill take them anyday when i have a say about what happens around me that affects my nursing care and lic.
  7. by   renerian
    There are really some great posts in this thread. Very informative

  8. by   -jt
    <I think there is an overall misunderstanding that nursing unions are like regular labor unions. They aren't or at least mine is not. Since it is our union, we decide what goes, our pres, and other voted members are people i know personally because they work with ME on MY floors.>

    I agree with you Charissa. Maybe because as a member of the New York State Nurses Assoc, I am in the same union as you - the United American Nurses/AFL-CIO - & we do things a certain way. You and I are lucky - we chose the right union.


    Question is what are NURSES afraid of - actually having a legally binding say in their conditions of employment, their practice, and what happens to them at work?
  9. by   -jt
    <<The union recommended a nickel or strike........LOL that sucked. WE voted and accepted cause the company already had people there to work and take our places. None of us could afford to live on our strike pay which was only 50 per week. Won't go far for a family of 4.>>

    The nurses voted to accept an unacceptable contract because they didnt want to go on strike??? Im sorry to hear that. Nurses did that at my hospital once & then spent the next 3 yrs living with that unacceptable contract & feeling the pain. They never made that mistake again. The next time, they were no longer afraid & voted 98% to strike to rectify the contract they swallowed 3 yrs before.

    The way we run our strikes is that after the first week, we schedule ourselves for 4 hr shifts a couple of days a week on the strike line so that the rest of the time we can work someplace else. Our union & its other hospitals in the area hold jobs fairs for the striking nurses for temp & per diem work. Agency recruiters come to the strike lines with car trunks filled with temporary employment applications. Some of our members are nurse recruiters & they make positions available for striking nurses. Spouses & friends of the striking nurses & other members who are in a position to, offer employment to the striking nurses as does the community & other business establishments. In Oregon, the dock workers & longshoremen in the area offered jobs to the striking nurses of the Oregon Nurses Assoc -- and some nurses even took them! In NY, Merrill Lynch, Macys, TV stations, airports, and elementary schools offered jobs to striking nurses. Everybody who wanted to work had no problem finding work - it actually found them. People came out of the woodwork to hire striking nurses - there is a big world for nurses outside of hospital nursing. They may have had to drive a little further than usual but there is no reason to accept an unacceptable contract out of fear of not finding work - especially in suburban or urban areas.

    Besides that, you can tell months ahead of time if there may be a possibility of a strike by how the hospital is behaving at the negotiating table, & if the possibility is there, we get the word out to work OT & agency & sock it away to build up our own private strike nest egg. A strike doesnt just come up on you out of nowhere. Its a FINAL alternative & comes up only after months of negotiating & bending backwards as far as you can, until the hospital walks out on you when you cant bend anymore. Either way, its up to the nurses what they want to do about it - not the union, as you saw with your own vote.

    If it had come down to the wire & the hospital was being hard nosed, testing your strength, & still wasnt budging to meet you halfway, & the union told the RNs that the only way they were going to get the hospital to move off their nickel offer was to apply the pressure of a strike, but the nurses then voted to accept the hospitals offer instead of strike, the nurses - not the union - made the decision because its the nurses - not the union reps- who are in charge & in control.

    When we had this same kind of situation at my hospital, we (the nurses on the negotiating team & the union reps) recommended to strike rather than accepting the hospitals offer. But its not the union or the negotiating team that makes the decision - we take direction from the staff RNs & cant do what the nurses do not want to do - so when the majority of the nurses who voted then voted to accept the crappy contract, they made the decision for all and we had to let it happen,a s much as we didnt agree & hated it.

    Within a week, we were getting irate phone calls from all these same nurses who voted to accept that contract rather than strike - blaming us RNs on the negotiating team & the union for accepting a crappy contract! Only thing is, the nurses on the negotiating team voted NO. We DIDNT accept it. And we recommended everyone esle do the same - but they chose not to. We explained, & explained & begged & pleaded & showed them exactly how accepting that contract would be so detrimental, but they thought it would be easier to live with the tremendous givebacks than deal with the temporary inconvenience of a strike. We voted NO. They voted YES. So it wasnt us who they should have been yelling at. We werent the ones who accepted that contract. We rejected it with our vote. We were ready to strike for our issues. All those angry nurses who voted YES only had themselves to blame but we all had to eat it for 3 years.

    They never made that mistake again. Undoing the damage of that contract & getting back all they had given up looked almost impossible when the next contract rolled around, but when we were ready to strike for it that time, the hospital made everything right again.

    And we still havent had to strike --- mainly because since that time, we have all been willing to strike.
    Last edit by -jt on Nov 10, '02
  10. by   -jt
    <Nurses who supported the union had nasty things printed about them in letters the the editor of local papers, and others were afraid to support because of the tactics.>

    They should sue the hospital that wrote the letters & the paper that printed it. Defamation.
    And its against the law to retaliate against a worker for union activity. This hospital learned that the hard way:

    <<4 nurses in union win $270,000 from HCA
    Separately, Norton Healthcare is told by NLRB to pay worker

    The former owner of Norton Audubon Hospital, HCA Healthcare, has paid about $270,000 to four nurses to settle charges they were demoted or lost their jobs because of union activity.

    And in a separate case, the National Labor Relations Board has ordered Audubon's owner, Norton Healthcare, to pay back compensation to an employee it says was denied a job because of her union activity.

    The two developments are the latest in a long-running battle by the Nurses Professional Organization to unionize nurses at the Louisville, Kentucky hospital.

    Audubon's nurses aren't unionized, despite NPO attempts since 1989.

    ''We're very happy that there finally is some justice'' for individual employees,'' said NPO organizer Kay Tillow.

    ''The problem is that the justice comes so late that it doesn't have any real impact on the employers committing unfair labor practices. . . . We are still very far from gaining the right to freely choose to have a union.''

    The four nurses' case dates to the mid-1990s when Columbia/HCA, now HCA, owned Audubon. Norton, which bought the hospital in 1998, informed employees of the settlement Friday.

    The largest settlement, about $172,000, went to Joanne Sandusky, who lost her job as a lactation specialist in 1994 when HCA moved some infantcare positions from Audubon to another hospital.

    Other nurses in the infantcare unit were offered a chance to move to the other hospital, but Sandusky wasn't. The NLRB eventually found Audubon had discriminated against her because of her union activity, and ordered it to offer her the same job or an equivalent one.

    Sandusky's settlement amount was based on the difference between the pay Sandusky would have received at Audubon and the amounts she got in other jobs after being discharged.

    Like the other nurses, she also received interest and make-up contributions to 401(k) and pension plans.

    The other three nurses -- Patricia Clark, Ann Hurst and Terry Hundley -- lost their jobs as charge nurses at Audubon in 1996 when the hospital launched a restructuring that reduced the nursing staff. They remained as lower-paying staff nurses.

    The NLRB ruled in 2000 that Audubon demoted them because of their union activities, including speaking out against staffing shortages. Clark and Hurst are officers of the union.

    The NLRB also ordered the hospital to offer them charge-nurse jobs, which it did. But Norton, by now the owner, declared the jobs to be supervisory, meaning the nurses would lose their union rights.

    The NLRB still is weighing whether Norton's offer was appropriate and whether it must pay the nurses any back pay beyond what HCA paid.

    In the other NLRB case involving Audubon, the board ordered back pay for Wilma McCombs, a housekeeping employee who is a member of the NPO's executive board.

    The Sept. 30 order upheld a ruling last fall by an NLRB administrative law judge, which Norton appealed.

    McCombs was one of 300 housekeepers working at Norton when it hired an outside company to replace that department in February 1999. She faced a pay cut from her Norton salary of $8.80 an hour to $7 with the new company.

    Norton promised that anyone from the housekeeping staff would be given first consideration for jobs at other departments in the hospital. But McCombs, who spoke out against the decision to hire the outside firm, was turned down several times for other jobs.

    She became a Norton employee again when the company brought the housekeeping function back inhouse in 2000.

    In his ruling last fall, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Irwin Socoloff found that Audubon had illegally held McCombs' pro-union activity against her. A three-member NLRB panel upheld the ruling.

    Tillow, the NPO organizer, said she didn't know how much pay and benefits are due McCombs.

    The panel also upheld Socoloff's ruling that an Audubon manager violated labor law through conversations with two nurses in 2000.

    After discussing nurse Maryann King's performance evaluation, a nurse manager asked her why she was wearing a union button, if she was unhappy with her job and other questions about the union. Socoloff said that questioning was ''coercive.''

    He also said the manager discriminated against the union by telling nurse Martha Ann Hurst not to talk about the union during work time, while permitting employees to discuss other non-work matters during work.

    Upholding Socoloff, the board ordered Norton to post a notice at its hospitals telling employees they have a right to support a union.

    In addition, it ordered Norton not to interrogate employees about their union sympathies. And it told the company not to forbid employees to talk about union matters during work while allowing other non-work discussions.

    A Norton spokeswoman said the company hasn't decided whether to appeal the order.

    Last edit by -jt on Nov 10, '02
  11. by   Teshiee
    It sounds like a double edge sword to me. Personally if nurses would band together in the first place we wouldn't need a middle man but it is here and they way California is looking there won't be a hospital the will not be union. Even where I am working it is buzzing around. Until full time employement seems lucrative they can forget me in the mix.
  12. by   -jt
    <there won't be a hospital the will not be union>

    And so it should be! An Rns place is in an RNs union.
    The RN union is not a "middle man" or an outside 3rd party as the hospital likes to call them. Its the RNs themselves. Whats wrong with empowering yourself & being in control over what happens to you at work?

    When we union RNs sit down at Labor/Management Meetings to discuss problems we've identified at our workplace or when we RNs are at the negotiating table creating our contract with our employer WE are doing the talking & the work.... with our unions valuable expertise & resources sitting next to us to assist. But it is the RNs who work there that are making the decisions so I dont understand where others perception of a "middle man" comes from.

    If youre just a "banded together group" all you can do is TALK to your employer & if he doesnt want to listen or take action on your concerns, you can talk till youre blue in the face - but you cant make him do anything or make anything change if he doesnt want it to.

    BUT If youre an oficially recognized union of nurses however, the law obligates him to pay attention, to take action on your concerns with your input & agreement, and to share decision making with you. And if he doesnt, as a union, you have legal avenues to take to make him to live up to his responsibility in that regard.

    No such power exists for you if you are just a "banded together" group. He doesnt have to do anything you need or share any decision making with you, & as just a banded together group, there is nothing you can do to force him to. Quit & he will just go to overseas to hire someone who wont make any waves.

    You can "band together" all you want but if you arent officially a recognized union, you dont have the labor union laws behind you & your employer has all the control. Nothing you obtain as a "banded together" group is guaranteed & all of it can be changed or disappear on the whim of the employer. Thats the difference. That cant happen if you are a union.

    Why would any RN prefer to put her future in the employers hands like that & leave herself at his mercy, rather than band together in a legally recognized union of colleagues who have the law behind them to ensure they have an equal voice in their workplace?

    Banding together into a group is the same as being unified - but without the legal backing, strength, & protection of the law. So why band together into just a group that has no real voice & no power of the law?

    If youre going to "band together" in unity anyway, why not do it in the way that gives you the legal power with it & make your banding together have some strength to make a difference?

    I dont understand the aversion to that.
  13. by   charissa
    I think the misconception that exists here is one created my the hospitals, it is what they have always preached, ""We dont need a middle man" THERE IS NO MIDDLE MAN!" The union is the nurses gourped together talking with the employer, nothing els. This middle man misconception is perfect for them, but the mysterious middleman DOES NOT EXIST