So, how do you all feel about having a union negotiate the issues that affect your pay, benefits, working conditions and disciplinary actions. Do we need them, are they effective, have you made it well enough on your own? How do you feel about striking?
Think about it, I would appreciate your responses.
Jan 20, '00
I do not approve of the Union issue. My hospital has had a Union (at least an affiliated Union) for many years. It has neither been very vocal or visual. I am, however, in favor of Nursing as a whole entering in to a collective bargaining political action group, represented by its own members, and supported whole-heartedly by its members. Nursing has not been very cohesive with respect to supporting its cause. When I was still in school, Nursing looked to the "Men in Nursing" for its salvation, to no avail. Should Nursing gather together as the powerful force it could be, its political strength could rule the health care industry, and Nursing would have more clout than even the AMA. I don't, however, see this as ever happening, due to past performance. But, I remain optimistic.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't...
Endeavor to persevere.
Jan 21, '00
BC -- I live and work in Minnesota. You may know us from the notorious strike in 1984. Unions have been very strong here for over 20 years.
Is it good? No, I think not. But it is so culturally accepted that no one seems to question it.
What happens is that a decision has to be good for EVERYONE or it can't be implemented. That means good for the "barely competent" and good for the "I don't want to work much" and good for the "you can't make me keep up with current trends" nurses of the world (and they exist everywhere.
Unions were here before I arrived in this state, and they are here to stay. Personally I beleive that administration probably got what it deserved (back then) and now, there is no foreseeable way out.
Unions don't allow the BEST of nurses to excell and or be rewarded. They don't ask --"What's in the best interest of the patient" before they plot the "who will float tonight?" decision tree -- seniority is NOT always best for the patient!
Unions don't distinquish minimal effort from extra effort and discourage managers from rewarding our prize nurses.
But they are a reality. I will not likely live to see them go. My goal is to move to a state where they are not the only vehicle for me to get what I want in my work-life, or the only mediator through which I can reason with my staff.
Jan 31, '00
A union is only as good as your contract. We have very little in our contract so that whenever an issue arises the response is, "We can't address that issue, they didn't break the contract."
This union is the first I've ever been involved with and it's been a real eye-opener. Our union steward appears to be in cahoots with the Nurse Manager and as a result she can call out sick excessively without consequence, all the while dragging her feet when we seek union help. I'm looking into becoming a steward myself but it's slow learning everything the hard way.
Feb 2, '00
Our local union representatives just finished negotiating our contract after 6 months of strained conflicts. We are represented by the Washington State Nurses Association. Each of the last three contract years, we've lost more and more of our benefits. During negotiations three years ago, we lost our week-end bonus of $3.00 an hour. This year, management went in with the plan to take away our step-increase program, reduce our health care benefits, decrease family leave time, and offered only 1% per year pay increase.
Our nurses worked 4 months without a contract while negotiations took place. During this time the flu season hit, and our staff was doing massive madatory overtime. Our contract allows that in times of short staffing, administration can mandatorily force nurses to work beyond their scheduled shift to cover staffing. This was intended to be a rarely used emergency clause, but over the last 6 years it has been used as a method to regularly staff the hospital rather that increasing FTEs. In a two-week period we had over 1,300 hours of overtime house wide. This issue was at the center of our concerns of safe staffing, as well as lack of respect and caring for staff.
Jan 28th, we gave 10 day strike notice. The strike was adverted when management finally put measures in contract language to greatly reduce and ultimately (we hope) eliminate mandatory overtime. Without the strong support and commitment of our collective bargaining unit, management would have been free to continue to abuse their staff and disregard patient safety.
Did we get everything we wanted? Certainly not. Many are still not happy. But we did retain our step increases, and got 2% wage increase per year instead of just 1%. I shudder to think what conditions I would be working under now had it not been for our bargaining unit and the protection our contract provides.
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