why do we settle for such low pay - page 3

I just read that hotel maids in New York make $18/hour. That is what many nurses in this country make. I agree with the previous post that we are creating our own shortage in many ways.... Read More

  1. by   SharonH, RN
    Why do we settle for such low pay? Hmmm..... I don't know. I do know that whenever a nurse acts like getting paid well, then she is usually shot down in flames; not just by management but by her co-workers. How many times have you heard the following(or derivations thereof):

    "You're here for the patient, not for the money."

    "If you just want to make money, you need to get out of nursing."

    "Nursing is a calling. You shouldn't care about making money."

    "We are well paid. I never made this much when I worked as a ________"

    And so on and so on and so on. As I said this comes from fellow co-workers, not always from management. As long as you have people who make it their business to look down on anyone who feels that they should be adequately reimbursed for the hard, hard work we do then you're going to have low pay.

    But there's more to it. Nursing has an image problem. There's a perception by the general public, other healthcare providers and even some working nurses that anyone can do what we do. There's resentment among the ranks towards each other. Associate's versus Bachelor's. Advanced practice nurses versus regular nurses. LPN's versus RN's. And instead of agreeing on our common needs and focusing on the solution(one of which I think is pushing independent practice), we continue to gripe at each other. And nursing suffers from a serious lack of leadership, at all levels.

    In short, we are our own worst enemy.
    Last edit by SharonMH31 on Sep 6, '02
  2. by   SharonH, RN
    Originally posted by James Huffman
    And unions. Ahh, the siren song of nurses who imagine that there's a Shangri-la somewhere, a unionized hospital heaven where nurses are treated with Respect. Unionization is the finest way I know to keep nursing in the 20th century, or more likely, the 19th century. Unions were a great idea that has come and gone, and it is no accident that the number of unionized employees just keeps dropping and dropping and dropping (it was at 13.5% in Feb., 2001, down from 13.9% in 1999, and down from 36% in the mid 1950s), and nurses in 2101 will find it difficult to believe that some of us actually WANTED to treat nursing professionals as though they were on the assembly line at GM. The more unionization, the more bureaucracy, and the less innovation. And yes, I am talking about the ANA and their minions on the state levels. I won't even talk about the Teamsters and other such. That there are nurses who want to hook up with such organizations would be laughable, were it not so sad.

    Jim Huffman, RN


    I couldn't agree more. I am one of the people who used to think that a union would be the answer for all of our problems. But a union would be just trading one master for another.
  3. by   caliotter3
    Am a dues paying member of union in another profession. Excellent pay, excellent benefits. However, all things considered, haven't had a job in more than a year. If it were up to this union, would not have the income to reside in my car. It is nursing, for all its faults, that is paying my bills and keeping me from living on the streets. Oh, and BTW, was under a doctor's care, when I lost my health benefits. No union member came to my aid then, or now.
  4. by   shay
    Hey, if we start getting paid per task/duty, can I ask for $100/minute to deal with an annoying/b!tchy/rude patient?? Huh huh can I can I????
  5. by   MHN
    Sjoe fortunately here in australia we don't have closed shops as you describe you have there,which I am sure makes its more difficult to make any changes. Sharon seems to me to epitomise the nurses attitudes to unions describing then as Masters that is the problem we are acually their masters as I stated in my previos post If we as a group can change that perception we could and would be able to make a difference.We have to tell them what to do on our behalf.

    Here when negotiations are taking place for a new contract (known locally as an EBA Enterprisse bargaining agreement) there nurse representative elected to be on the committee along with the union officials who negotiate the new deal. I had been involved in this in the past and found it very satisfying to represent the nurses wants and needs to gain a fair and sustainable outcome. MHN
    Last edit by MHN on Sep 6, '02
  6. by   nell
    Originally posted by shay
    Hey, if we start getting paid per task/duty, can I ask for $100/minute to deal with an annoying/b!tchy/rude patient?? Huh huh can I can I????
    :roll :roll :roll

    Boy, when a few patients see THAT on their bill and word gets around (I'm sure insurance won't cover that!) I'll bet we'll have a lot fewer problem patients/families!:chuckle
  7. by   nell
    Originally posted by James Huffman

    This is in the very nature of my disagreement about unions. There are NO nurses "on the same level." NO ONE has identical seniority, experience and experiences, clinical expertise and abilities, management skills, etc. Yet unions treat nurses -- and other employees -- as though they were cogs on a wheel, interchangable, and identical.

    I'd also add that if a facility refuses to pay more to nurses who are better negotiators or more aggressive, what they have ensured is that those nurses will take their expertise elsewhere, to a place that will reward them for their negoiating skills. (Negotiating is a career skill, pure and simple). Such nurses simply won't tolerate being treated "like everyone else," when the reality is that they are NOT like everyone else.

    Jim Huffman, RN

    I'm happy for you that you are so special.

    Thinking about the nurses in my unit that would be the "negotiating type": they are the ones who think they are so great (and manage to convince the manager how great they are too...), but are a pain to follow.

    Then I think about the ones who are real assets and MOST of them do not have a bargaining bone in their bodies - they're just great nurses who work hard and have the patients' best interests at heart.

    Through our clinical ladder, if we think we're special, we can apply for a higher classification and the increased salary that goes with it. I am certainly not special in the same way that most of my fellow CNIIs are - I don't intubate, teach classes or put in PICC lines, but our clinical ladder is flexible and accomodates a wide range of talents.

    Maybe it's just 'cause I'm a Libra, but I like the level playing field and fairness that our own little union affords us.
  8. by   lisamcrn
    I think some opinions of why our pay is lower is becoming too complicated. Our profession is and has been one of the lasting noble ones. Arising thru hundreds of years, engulfing many facets, changes, offering many nonpayable benefits. Such as instant respect (deserved or not) for holding that title, an aura of knowledge and such. Our professions falls into the category of others including policeman, fireman, and teachers. While none of these professions have the best working conditions, scheduled breaks, time for meals, we have public support and an image. We are held to a high standards and sources of support and knowledge. I, personally, value this from holding the title RN.

    I'd much rather take my much higher than average wage I make and have those benefits. And when I tire of that I will move on to something else. Our pay should be more for what we do, but at this time, it's not happening. Our managers and leaders have a long way to go to ensure a better realistic enviroment than we have now on a typical day, but things have improved from 30 years ago.

    And currently I'm making a heck of a lot more than most cops, fireman, and teachers And teachers have much more education than I have with only an AA and ADN degree. How can most nurses expect to make high wages with only 1-4 years education. My dad's law degree took 7 years of his life....my career only 2.

  9. by   Weinstein
    You think nursing pay is low now? Wait 18 months, you won't be able to find a job!

    Check into the H1-A visa program that grants work visa's to foreign nurses. Have you missed all of the recent Congressional hearings?

    The H1-B program has brought over 2 million tech workers into the country over the last decade. Now here is 17% umemployment in the technology sector and the INS is still bringing in 200,000 per year.

    Nurses are next with the 'H1-A' visa. -- expect millions of 'H1-A' nurses.

    In a couple of years, you will not be able to find a job, imported
    nurses will be working for half of what you are currently making.... and they will be happy to have that!

    links on the techie issue
  10. by   sjoe
    weinstein--And the best part of these kinds of visas for employers is that if the workers lose their jobs with the particular sponsoring employer (if they quit or are terminated), they lose their visas at the same time and have to go back to their country of origin!

    Talk about control over one's employees. Are these people EVER going to stand up for better working conditions, or being treated with respect, or for working reasonable hours? Or anything else? Are they EVER going to refuse mandatory overtime? No way. They will be perfect employees (even if the patients often cannot understand what they are saying and vice versa).

    A modern version of indentured servitude, of course, ideally suited for today's profit-driven healthcare system.
  11. by   renerian
    Am I in the wrong line of work? Sheezze

  12. by   jokieman31
    I doubt nurses in NY are making less than maids in NY.
    Quite right. it is very silly to even make a comparison like this.

    If you live in florida, then you should be comparing what you make to a maid working in florida. Not New York.

    The Cost of Living is higher in new york, therefore maids, nurses, doctors, are all paid more. A maid making 5 bucks an hour in new york would have to commute from texas!


    mentioned that hotel maids were usually Mexican.

    People pay for good help, this comment seems somewhat racist.
  13. by   jokieman31
    The answer is simple the nurses pay dues to employ someone to do their bidding the only problem is that a lot of us don't think of the union officials as being our employees .We are the the one's paying their wages so we are the people who should be instructing them what their tasks are.So stand up instruct them tell them what to do or else sit on your hands and get "blue fingers"

    Some unions might only do this. Any good union will make sure that you are working in a facility where all health/safety standards are met, where breaks and lunches are MANDATORY, and of course they will always try to negotiate the highest pay possible.

    Someone else mentioned that Unions treat people like they are simply spokes in the wheel.

    This sounds like something straight from the heart of a loyal middle management type person.

    Unions were originally formed in this country to KEEP people from being treated like this. If your union does not, then it sucks and is pointless. Most Unions however DO fight for what is right.

    They fight so hard in fact that some UPS drivers make more money than nurses do, and this is mostly because of the Union.

    A good union will keep you from being wrongly fired because you voiced valid complaints to your boss. A good union will always make sure that health and safety standards are kept up to date.

    Airline Pilots and workers also belong to unions, so is it a surprise that they make decent money? work in good conditions, and get their meal and bathroom breaks? Not really.

    IT is this simple mentality (Well gee I worked in a union and it stank, so therefore, unions are horrible.)

    It is the very fact that because nurses will not stand together, they have to put up with these "Conditions."

    It's one of the same reasons why Native Americans had their land stolen out from underneath them. They were too busy fighting with each other when they should have been united against us. hehe.

    But really, to the original poster, about maids making 18 bucks an hour. Why not go be a maid? I can guarantee you, if that maid is making 18 bucks an hour, then they are living in a hole because their studio apartment is running them 2000 a month.