What's the deal with unions?

  1. Hey everyone,

    I just had an interview at a hospital that is a union facility. They informed me that they had occasional mandatory overtime. They also float nurses to other units (but you only float within your area, for example critical care nurses do not float to med-surg, they only go to other critical care areas or telemetry). And lastly, their salary is not any higher than other hospitals in the area. My question is, what is the point of paying $40/month in union dues if I still have mandatory overtime, am floated, and am not paid any higher? What is the advantage of having a union? Thanks for your input!
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    About EmeraldNYL

    Joined: Oct '02; Posts: 1,191; Likes: 28


  3. by   Gomer
    None, except you have the honor of paying them so much a month to belong to their little club.

    On a side note, the two nursing unions (CNA and SEIU) in California are really going at it and not in a friendly way. CNA is afraid to lose nurses to SEIU now that Tenet and SEIU are sleeping together. If you want a laugh check out what each says about the other on their websites (www.cna.org and www.seiu.org). Glad my hospital has stayed unionless!
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    none in THAT case. OUR union, however brought about MANY positive changes for the better where I work, to include doing away w/mandatory overtime,raising our pay commensurate with the area (which previously it was not), and no mandatory floating. I guess it boils down to them representing your interests best. WE have some GOOD stewards and I have to thank them for their hard work.
  5. by   sjoe
    "On a side note, the two nursing unions (CNA and SEIU) in California are really going at it and not in a friendly way. CNA is afraid to lose nurses to SEIU now that Tenet and SEIU are sleeping together. If you want a laugh check out what each says about the other on their websites (www.cna.org and www.seiu.org)."

    And having been a member of BOTH these unions at different times in the past, neither is worth much, IMHO.
  6. by   RNforLongTime
    Last hospital I worked was unionized. The union did crap and cost me close to 400 bucks a year. They weren't able to do away with Mandatory OT. When I worked on a med-surg floor there, I was mandated at LEAST 8 hrs/week cause we were always short staffed. One weekend, I worked 40 hours, a 16 hr shift Friday, an 8 hr shift on Sat and then another 16 hr shift on Sunday! Mandatory OT is not good for neither pt or nurse.

    I found that sometimes hospitals will lie to you and tell you what you want to hear to get you to work for them. This hospital told me that they could only mandate me for a max of 4 hours! Boy was that a lie! After that experience, I will NEVER AGAIN work for a unionized facility.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    Emerald . . . after that interview, you can tell them you are not interested and exactly why. Represent yourself and save the monthly dues.

    Gomer . . that cna site was for a military corporation.

    Almost had a union come here a few years ago . . . voted it down overwhelmingly. Thank goodness.

    My own personal conviction is I would never work at a place where I was forced to join a union in order to work.

  8. by   itsme
    Our union keeps us from doing mandatory OT, got us a 20% raise, decent shift differential, and helped us keep our jobs when all the budget cuts started and they were talking about getting rid of a certain # of nurses. Our union gets us holiday pay when the management refuses, we have won every single grievance ever filed. Our union gives part time employees benefits we wouldnt have without being full time. I love our union. YOu have to have good stewards to have a good union!!
  9. by   Gomer
    Originally posted by stevielynn

    Gomer . . that cna site was for a military corporation.

    Sorry Steph, the address is www.calnurse.org My mistake.
  10. by   CashewLPN
    um.... sometimes unions can be nice... as in when you're being treated unfairly by an employer in an AT WILL state... like NY....

    my union.... SEIU 1199... has gotten me out of mucho trouble when a deranged nurse manager had it in for me....

    now, it assists with health insurance, guarantees us days off... gives us a big voice to protest bad assignments with

    personally, I like unions....
  11. by   pieWACKet
    Sorry to be so long in this, but the initial questions demand thorough response. Mandatory overtime is not something a union can erradicate, and looking for a union to do this is misplaced energy. This is a legislative issue. As long as an individual state still has RN mandatory overtime legislation in place, NO union, NO nurse can prevent its use. Initially put in place by national and state legislators to assure adequate nurse resources in time of civil emergencies in all their forms, it has been abused by the industry to include the local environment of their entities and their ongoing staffing needs, allowing them NEVER to overschedule even by 0.2% nurse. For a union to try to bargain mandatory overtime away would be like their trying to bargain away disciplinary action for selling left over morphine. It would be illegal. Until the LAW is changed, no union can bargain it off the table. The fight against mandatory overtime exists in the legislative arena and it is vigorously embattled.
    In this era of homeland security, the issue is clouded. Some states are moving towards erradication of mandatory overtime language [California and Minnesota spring to mind, and despite comments to the negative about the CNA, they were highly instrumental in bringing this issue to the public and legislative consciousness in their state] However, on a national level the issue is also debated. The industry's umbrella organizations and their lobbyists vigorously oppose any change in current mandatory OT language. See http://thomas.loc.gov, and type in "mandatory Overtime" and you will see the current national bill.What a union CAN accomplish in regards to mandatory OT enlightening management through the negotiation process and so cause them to address the environmental and economic issues causing job dissatisfaction in their facility, thereby decreasing the shortage in the facility, and so reducing its reliance on mandatory overtime.

    If you are wondering what you can get from a union,the most basic thing you will get is protection, and this should not be underrated, particularly if you are verbal with your complaints, no matter how innocently or kindly they are provided, or how justified they are, or how lunatic or just misdirected your direct supervisor is. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in some cases, just oiled.But even if you are not verbal, you may be subject to disciplinary action.

    In a union shop, disciplinary action can only occur with a union rep present, unless you agree, and you never should agree, otherwise. This helps to assure everyone at the [confidential] meeting hears what everyone is saying, and allows the union to keep track of what it is management is targeting nurses for and if a nurse is being unfairly targetted with the intent for termination utilizing small episodes not worthy of that end. A heavy handed written warning plan by management can be made into the more reasonable verbal warning truth for instance , if the offense merits it. Management's caprice is checked and you and your nursing colleagues can know the facts regarding exactly how many disciplinary actions are occuring and what issues they address while the nurses who have been disciplined are kept in strictest confidence [is it issues of practice,or issues of attitude, the surly retort of a nurse to the constantly abusive "client" family going against the corporate "satisfy the customer no matter what" mandate, the nonverbal cueing in response to a surgeon speaking yet again in a haughty manner and his anger at her comportment causing him to lodge a complaint against her, etc]...complaints vary in their import, but when called in for a meeting no matter what the cause any nurse would be more comfortable with an arbitrator.
    Secondly, your union hospital that is "only paying what other hospitals pay in the area"...does not inform if the area of your employment is largely non union or union. If the local area is union, then the non union hospitals must meet their standard or they would not be able to compete. If the area is largely non union, how old is the union? Contracts must be built overtime, upon the previous.If the union is new, the contract foundation is just now being laid. The many complaints staff have at non union hospitals when first they unionize can NOT all be addressed in the first contract, nor the second, though the second builds on the first. Older unionized institutions have stronger contractual language.
    Lastly, a union may or many not [depending on size] have a few paid persons at the central office for office requirements and to serve with the nurses of an individual facility at contract negotiations, etc, but in the facility itself, it is composed of volunteers, other nurses, like yourself. I suggest speaking with one of those union reps, to understand the history of the union [why it occurred-they aren't born easily] and what they have gained. By the way, floating only within "related area blocks" was a concession won by unions [management certainly didn't give it]. The trends set by unions immediately affect their local environments, and as new trends cascade through new rounds of negotiations in larger regions,they help to develop a standard practice. In America as a whole, the median salary of nurses who are unionized is greater than that of non unionized nurses. As for why you would spend 400$ for a union and not be involved where you are putting your money is the bigger question. I have worked in nursing now near 20 years, I have worked union shop and non union shop, and I can tell you, I always prefer the unionized facility. A union is only as strong and responsive as its membership. It takes work and dedicated staff to work the union and make it work for them.
    Sorry to be so long, but i was distressed at the negative attitude towards our unions. Surely they have done a world of good for nurses.
  12. by   -jt
    <For a union to try to bargain mandatory overtime away would be like their trying to bargain away disciplinary action for selling left over morphine. It would be illegal. Until the LAW is changed, no union can bargain it off the table. >

    not true. In NY, the bill to ban mandatory ot still has yet to be passed into law but the New York State Nurses Assoc has negotiated mandatory ot out of existence in several contracts. Just to mention two of them: Nurses on Long Island went on strike for 104 days to get a mandatory ot ban in their contract. Staten Island University Hospital agreed to ban mandatory ot without making their nurses strike for it --- and now it even advertizes in the job classifieds: "RNs! NO MANDATORY OT!!!"
    Mandatory ot is being banned in our contracts without a state law requiring it to be, but there is always an exception made for govt declared emergencies. However, in those emergencies (like a recent blizzard & the Sept 11 attack on NY), mandatory ot did not even have to be used - nurses volunteered.

    <<Staten Island RNs & NYSNA ABOLISH Mandatory OT

    Hospital agrees to a 16-percent raise and the ABOLISHMENT of forced overtime -

    Friday, October 12, 2001

    After nine months of grueling -- and sometimes nasty -- negotiations, Registered Nurses at Staten Island University Hospital, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, have approved a three-year contract -- the first in this borough to prohibit the fiercely contested practice of mandated overtime....
    The biggest victory for the nurses, the prohibition of mandated overtime, goes into effect in February 2002, giving the hospital time to recruit staff RNs and fill some of those 80 full time positions. Abolishment of mandatory overtime was won after a long and hard-fought battle in which the nurses considered, but never actually voted on, striking.......The only exception to mandated overtime is in the event of a disaster...... >>

    Last edit by -jt on May 16, '03
  13. by   pieWACKet
    Thank you for the enlightenment. I have attempted to access the article which you quoted, but the link is old and unavailable. Interesting, then...the union managed to get the facility to abide by the intent of the initial legislation. Not really erradicated, just not allowing for its abuse, and so in standing with the intent of the legislation.
    Yes, i was one of those St Vincent RNs during 911. Initially instating mandatory overtime in the morning of that sad day, by mid afternoon, they had too many in addition volunteering in.
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    I work registry at a couple Tenet hospitals now. Many critical care nurses want a CNA election with the labor board rather than take what Tenet told them they are getting. Most would rather not have any union. They have become friends over many years and would rather put up with the hassel of working for the best union (or at least a choice) than quit.
    For the person just applying. There is a shortage. Unless there is only one hospital in town you don't have to accept the offer.
    PS: a union is only as successful as its members make it.
    Jodie Snyder
    The Arizona Republic
    May. 16, 2003 12:00 AM
    Five Valley hospitals have made the list of the nation's 100 operating rooms with the highest markups, with one charging 10 times more than cost, says a report issued Thursday by an influential nurses union.

    Tempe St. Luke's was tops in the country, charging 1,020 percent over its operating-room costs, according to an analysis of 1999 and 2000 federal cost reports conducted by the California Nurses Association.

    The national average was 220 percent over cost.

    In late 1999, Tenet Healthcare Corp. sold Tempe St. Luke's, St. Luke's Medical Center and Mesa General Hospital to Iasis Healthcare Corp.

    It's not surprising that Tenet, which is being investigated on suspicion of performing unnecessary heart operations, would have high-charge ORs, said Chuck Idelson of the association.

    Iasis didn't raise rates for three years after it bought the Valley hospitals, spokesman Tom Reavis said.

    Iasis believes its charges are now in line with those of other hospitals.

    Rainey Daye Holloway, spokeswoman for Maryvale Hospital Medical Center, said the hospital's high ranking may be because it handles complex cases.

    Officials of John C. Lincoln Health Network were not available.

    There are no simple reasons for Arizona having four hospitals in the top 20, said Jim Haynes, chief financial officer for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

    "I wish there was an easy answer for this, but there isn't."

    Hospitals' surgery charges blasted

    Modesto Bee

    Published: May 16, 2003, 06:03:23 AM PDT
    Doctors Medical Center of Modesto and Doctors Hospital of Manteca had the second- and third-highest markup rates in the nation on surgery charges, a union-commissioned study says.
    The California Nurses Association released the study amid intense labor organizing activity at the Modesto hospital and other facilities owned by Santa Barbara-based Tenet Healthcare Corp.
    The study includes a national top-100 list. Five hospitals in the top 10, and 25 in the top 100, are Tenet facilities.
    Tenet officials suggested that the association is angry because the company recently aligned with two other unions.
    Tenet officials also point to a link between the union and the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, which performed the study. Don DeMoro, the institute's executive director, is the husband of Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association.
    "We're not going to dignify the report with a response," Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said.
    The association said the study was not intended to single out Tenet.
    "There are other hospital chains on the list," spokesman Charles Idelson said. "Anyone who follows the CNA knows we are an equal-opportunity critic. We have the same concerns with every one of these 100 hospitals."
    Since late last year, the institute has released a series of studies into hospital pricing and has received national attention for its work.
    The latest study examines information about charges and costs that hospitals submit to the federal government.
    Don DeMoro said the data are reliable because it is illegal to falsify the reports. He said the information speaks for itself.
    "(The research) holds up," he said. "If it isn't correct, we don't put it out."
    According to the study, surgery charges at Doctors Medical Center and Doctors Hospital were 974 percent and 940 percent more than costs, respectively.
    Two Stockton hospitals also made the top 100: Sutter Health-owned Dameron Hospital, with a 536 percent cost-to-charge ratio, ranked 91st; and St. Joseph's Medical Center, with a 526 percent markup, ranked 96th. St. Joseph's is part of the Catholic Healthcare West system.
    On average, hospitals across the country have a 220 percent markup on their surgery charges, the study says.
    According to the study, for-profit and large hospital chains had the highest markups. Sixty-one of the top 100 are for-profit hospitals and 44 are owned by the nation's two largest investor-owned systems, Tenet and HCA-The Healthcare Company.
    "Surgery is a very lucrative element within the hospital industry," Don DeMoro said, adding that the markups cause overall health care inflation.
    Previous CNA studies show that Tenet's California hospitals charged the highest drug markups in the state and that its billings for workers compensation cases were well above the state median.
    Doctors Medical Center had some of the highest charges in the statewide comparisons and also was blasted in a California Public Employees Retirement System report in February. Cal-PERS found that its health plans had paid DMC five times more than what CalPERS paid other hospitals in the state for heart surgeries.
    Federal regulators are investigating whether Tenet overcharged the government for expensive Medicare cases called "outliers." And the state Assembly has ordered an audit of the company's billings.
    Earlier this month, Tenet announced a labor alliance with the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and said employees who join either will receive 29 percent raises over four years.
    The California Nurses Association filed a complaint this week with the National Labor Relations Board, saying the alliance is illegal and that employees should be granted the raises regardless of whether they join the unions.
    Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at 578-2321 or kcarlson@modbee.com.