Is this any way to retain nurses? - page 7

Soooo..... We've been unionized with our state nurses assoc since 1983, with significant monetary and professional standard contract gains ever since, and once again are in negotiations with the... Read More

  1. by   Used and abused
    Quote from purplemania
    You listed plenty of reasons why I feel unions are worthless. We are not unionized and have MUCH better benefits than you outlined. Vote with your feet----leave
    I had lost my job because I reported unsafe practice, which was changed and then I became a focus for administration and was literally pushed out of my job. They dragged stuff up that was no longer on my record, minute things like omitting a Colace from med pass,when I first became a nurse 10 years ago, would not let me reply, my union stood behind the ADMINISTRATION!! They then said they would fight for me, and admitted it was the 'whistle blower's act' that could save my job, but then admitted would I want to go back to my old job? Hell NO! It would have cost me thousands of dollars. I was in contact with the union attorney etc. I figured a change of job is better than wasting my life looking backwards. I am now a director of nurse at a ling term facility, miss the technology of the hospital, I luv gadgets, luv pt care, hated most everything else. I am working to NOT be like the manager that lied, made up stories, talked about my case to the entire staff, which is supposed to be illegal. The little nurse rarely wins, that is why they need to band together to protect eachother. Unfortunatley, my union was new and inexperienced.
  2. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    in two weeks, it will be one year since our contract expired. this is quite unusual in canadian nursing labour history, as most contracts are settled within a couple of months of expiry.

    in december, ten months into talks, the provincial health authorities decided the negotiations were "hopelessly deadlocked" after actually negotiating face to face for less than 100 hours (the equivalent of 2 1/2 full time work weeks). they asked the government to order compulsory arbitration, something the union has refused to participate in for 16 years. the government, being the employers' employer, of course complied, and set a deadline of march 31 to have an agreement in place.

    three days before christmas, the premier of alberta was quoted in the news stating he would send any nurse who took part in job action to jail. (anything that is coordinated and involves more than one person is considered the equivalent of a strike according to legislation here.)

    in january, the arbitration board consisting of a representative from each side and a neutral chair met with the parties and agreed to act as mediators. in exchange for this concession, they asked that no discussion be carried out in the public arena, meaning the press. this was agreed upon by both parties. on march 7, the board requested the parties agree to an extension of the deadline to allow for continued negotiations, which the board felt were on track but time consuming, since the process involves rolling community and facility contracts, each with many local conditions, into a single blanket agreement, as well as hammering out the issues i've already enumerated. the board sent a request to the government at the same time, asking that the extension be approved. on march 15, the nurses' union agreed to the extension, believing that a negotiated agreement is the only acceptable outcome. the provincial health authorities have refused to answer the request. the government has not yet replied.

    there have been rumours swirling about concerning draft legislation forcing the nurses to accept the health authorities' "final offer", which would essentially mean rolling back working conditions by several decades and turning us into interchangeable widgets. most people are tired of the whole thing and can't muster up much enthusiasm for a political action campaign much less a strike. so here i sit, still waiting for the ax to fall.
    Last edit by NotReady4PrimeTime on Mar 18, '04
  3. by   kari k

    I've done alot of reading tonight, this is my first ever reply ever. My theory on hospitals and retention is this: Hospital administration is not worried you will go "down the street" and work for the other guys. Because if you really wanted to you would have gone already without a word to your current employer. Because you stay and say to them "what if we leave?" they already know the "other guys" can't take you all and probably won't pay you the wages you've earned over the years from your current employer. You may be a experienced, easy to get along with, breathing, and dependable worker but your hospital is not afraid to loose you.

    So what's my answer? Now I'm not procompany but I think there are certain realities to our problem. There are not alot of nurses to take our place, but in many economies like mine, my $25.00/hour job is pretty good. So I got myself on a shift and a schedule that works for me and I take my wellbutrin and zoloft faithfully. I thank God I have a job and I don't sweat the small stuff. If a situation at work gets stressful I just slow down even more. I'm not gonna screw up and give the hospital any reason to fire me. I also am not gonna run around like a chicken with my head cut off. If we can't keep people and theres too much work, well I guess the hospital just doesn't care if it gets done. Anyway were open 24/7 so at the end of my shift the next nurse can just pick up where I left off, and I'll do the same when she goes home.

    I happen to work in surgery where we do the one patient thing, so its easy for me to say I'm going home. However there is plenty of pressure to hustle. stay over and take extra call. I also understand how so many dedicated people say the short staffing is hurting the patients. Well the hospital is counting on your dedication and letting you feel guilty for their poor personel policies. Their not gonna do that to me!
  4. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    as of june 8, the majority of alberta's registered nurses have a new contract. :hatparty: (see my previous posts in this forum for background.) the agreement essentially does away with the health authorities' plan to float nurses all over the province, puts in writing very specific conditions for mobility, eliminates their ludicrous 66% evenings/nights and arbitrary assignment of permanent evenings/nights demands and maintains an rn on duty and in charge in all units. it includes raises of 3.5 %, 3% and 3% over three years and an increase in night shift premiums to $2.00 an hour, retroactive to april 1, 2003. :d there are other terms relating to severance, benefits, seniority and leaves of absence that put previous guarantees in writing. but, and it's a big but, we may still have to consider job action.

    there are 2000 rns in alberta who are not covered by central table bargaining. they are employed by a number of small groups such as the continuing care employers bargaining association, good samaritan, capital care, good shepherd and the alberta cancer board. most of these separate table negotiations are going poorly. cceba and a number of others refuse to accept the nurse-in-charge provision, as well as other less-important issues; the cancer board refuses to agree to cover the cost of a nurse's benefits during unpaid palliative care leaves and a change in vision care terms. :angryfire the united nurses of alberta have a long-standing practice of going into negotiations together and coming out together, and no one is left behind. so although the provincial health authorities of alberta have a deal, una will not sign until all unionized nurses in the province have an agreement. information pickets have occured at several sites around the province over the last few days and una has mounted a media campaign to pressure the hold-outs into at least talking. and today the news was full of king ralph, the premier, spouting his reasons why this fall would be a good time for a provincial election. does he really think nurses and their families will be voting for him?
  5. by   Destinystar
    taking care of pts. is stressful enough let alone what you are dealing with. i dont know how you get the strength to it. i admire you for your determination. i hope your efforts pay off and that because of them things will change for the better.
    Quote from -jt
    soooo..... we've been unionized with our state nurses assoc since 1983, with significant monetary and professional standard contract gains ever since, and once again are in negotiations with the hospital for a new contract. is it just us, or does anyone else get the impression that this hospital is doing all it can to drive our nurses out of their jobs???......

    on the first day of the first negotiating session, in its opening statements, the hospital refused to recognize some of the rns on our negotiating team - which had been elected by the rest of the staff rns to represent them - and refused to release them for negotiations, even though it is required to do so according to our contract. so, in the first 5 minutes of the first negotiating session, the hospital committed an illegal act & we had to stop to file a grievance for arbitration. nice way to set the tone.

    they canceled the next session and gave us dates to meet only once a week. they have given us dates into september, so they apparently have no plans to settle this contract quickly. it expired in june.

    at the following session, they announced that recruitment and retention is their focus - but they specified that they meant recruitment & retention of new grads. in keeping with that, they proposed to cut the experienced rns' tuition reimbursement in half & apply that money to establishing sign on bonuses for new grads. they blatantly said they want to be able to take money from experienced nurses & give it to new hires who already start with a base of almost $60,000/yr right out of school. nice slap in the face for the nurses who already work here.

    then our hospital is refusing to implement retirement benefits that our union rns have obtained at other area hospitals and, to add insult to injury, is also insisting on cutting its contributions to our retirement annuity plan in half. they also do not want to allow new hires to be vested in 3 years, as the rest of us are, and want to create a 2-tier system by forcing new hires to wait 5 yrs for vesting. so they can work 5 yrs worth of wasted time with nothing added to their retirement funds.

    it's insisting on reducing our medical benefits and wants to make us start paying for them too. and it wants to deny new hires the immediate medical benefits they are currently entitled to - forcing them to work more than a month with no benefits at all. theyll just be out of luck if they get hit by a car on the way to work. what incentive is there for a new nurse to work here when they are more valued at the next facility?

    the hospital also wants the right to change our medical benefits plan and providers whenever it feels like it. it's prevented from doing that now.

    it's also refusing pay increases in experience, education, charge, shift, or preceptor differentials and offered only a 2% raise. it wants to cut our continuing ed days and reimbursements. it got rid of all the clinical nurse specialists and expects the staff rns to assume that role for new nurses - without compensation and without a decrease in the rn's pt load. it refused to increase pay for outside experience and insists on being allowed to continue paying a newly hired experienced nurse for up to only 10 years of her outside experience, while we have gotten hospitals all around us to do away with that ceiling and they now pay the nurse for all her years in nursing. this hospital also wants to cap the salaries of its own long-time nurses and stop their current increases paid for anything over 25 years at this facility - no matter how long they work there. again, not competitive with our other hospitals that now recognize and compensate the rn for all her years in nursing. whats the incentive for an experienced nurse to work here when she is valued more at the next hospital?

    the hospital is violating the contract restrictions on mandatory ot pending the arbitration hearing on the matter. it also wants cuts in sick time and retribution against us if we use a sick day. then, if we have a sick day, but work an over time shift in that same pay period - mandatory or voluntary - they want to only pay us straight time for the ot and not count the sickday hours in the calculation. we envision the supervisors searching the rolls for anyone who had a sick day that week. we forsee that that's the person who will be mandated to work ot so the hospital can save on the time and a half payroll expense.

    there is a punitive atmosphere of intimidation and nurses are suddenly being disciplined for every little thing (like thats really going to scare us into backing down). for example, a unit secretary didnt do her paper work "in a timely fashion" so the nurse was disciplined. an neurosurgical rn was floated to a med-surg floor & paired with a nurses aid who was floated from mother/baby. an order was written for a lab draw on a pt at change of shift. lab techs have been laid off & the nurses aid is expected to do those jobs. the rn was still busy with pt care. the mother/baby aid was not certified to draw labs so the rn delegated the lab draw to the aide coming onto the next shift. she gave report, alerted the next rn, stayed late to finish her charting, reminded the aid & the rn about the labs, and went home. she was then written up for not drawing the labs herself before she left.

    the grievances will get all these ridiculous disciplines thrown out, but the effect that nonsense like this has on morale is not so easily fixed. one nurse reported a patient safety problem in his unit to our union delegate. that nurse was then harrassed by management and fired. that was illegal and he will win his job back, along with back pay once the arbitration is heard - but he will not accept the job back - and we lost another excellent rn. there are all these grievances, arbitrations, and unfair labor practice charges filed with the nlrb up the wazzoooo, but the hospital doesnt seem to care.

    it's demanding that we allow nurses to be disciplined if there are any doctor complaints about them or their unit or if their unit's press ganey patient satisfaction surveys are not improved - even though doctors' and patients' complaints usually stem from the fact that there isnt enough staff - and that is not the nurses fault - but the hospital is demanding that we actually agree to hold ourselves responsible for it. it also wants to be able to force the nurses who have received complaints or nurses on units that have not improved their customer satisfaction surveys to attend "customer satisfaction" courses - on our own time and at our own expense as punishment.

    in this current round of contract negotiations, the hospital is even demanding the elimination of our clinical divisions and wants to be allowed to have unrestricted floating, irregardless of whether the rn has training in the area she is floated to or not. thats something we did away with 20 years ago! but the hospital wants it back. it's refusing to implement 12 hr flextime on units that dont already have it, even though our contract allowed for alternative work schedules and required the hospital to consider it on any unit where the rns want it. although they agreed to that long ago, the hospital has refused to abide by it - another violation - and told us to "take it to arbitration".
    ok. done.

    it also wants to change our hard-won staffing ratios - because there is no state law that says they must have staffing ratios. (our union's nurses wrote the bill for that state law, got it into the legislature, but it hasnt yet been passed, therefore the hospital is not yet forced to provide staffing ratios by law). so, they want the critical care rn-to-pt staffing ratio changed from 1:2 to make it 1:3. they want the med-surg and oncology ratio to go up to 1:8/9. they want the l&d ratio to be 1:2 instead of 1:1. they accused the nursing staff of slacking off on the job and think we dont have enough work to do to justify our salaries if we dont have that many patients to be responsible for. instead of instituting measures that would make the place one that nurses want to work in, being able to attract, hire, and keep the staff we need, the assistant vp of human resources shrugged his shoulders and actually stated "we dont have the staff for the current ratios. they need to be changed because we dont have the staff. if you force us to comply with your ratios, we'll just mandate you with ot to meet them".

    cant even call that a "hidden" threat.

    with all the media attention on why nurses are leaving hospital jobs, youd think this kind of attitude towards nurses would be past us & administration would be eager to find ways to bring us back to the bedside. no such reality here.

    why would any nurse want to work at my hospital? maybe the fact that they wont doesnt matter. the hospital is also demanding to eliminate our entire long-standing job security clause from our contract. hmmm... does that mean lay-offs are planned??

    after hearing all these proposals, i thought they were joking. our jaws hit the floor when we realized they werent. we asked if they read the newspapers lately and if they knew what the reasons were that rns do not want to work at the bedsides anymore.

    the corporation vp told us to our faces: "this is a business. we have to run it economically and do whats best for the business. we are not going to lose in business just for some rns. if we dont have business - you dont have a job."

    we responded:"without nurses, you dont have a business".
    and that was the end of that negotiations session.

    i cant believe that they actually had the audacity to seriously make these kinds of demands of us in this time of bedside nurse shortages - and in the same breath state they are "focusing on retention". how is any of this going to attract nurses & keep them working here? its just going to drive them straight to the hospital around the corner or down the street, where the rns are in the same union and the hospital administration there does read the newspapers.

    bear in mind that if we were not a union, the administration could have made all these changes already all by itself & we'd already be living with it all. but since we are a union, they cant do any of it unless we agree. and we dont. the hospital so far will not change its position or even listen to reason, so the nurses are already demanding that our union take a strike vote to make it listen. this is how hospitals provoke and cause nurses strikes.

    our hospital just posted about 30 vacant rn positions. some had been filled just a few months ago but those nurses have already left. and it thinks that while its doing all of the above, sign-on bonuses for new grads, with money stolen from experienced nurses, are going to make a difference.

    the hospital has the attitude it has towards nurses, makes the kinds of contract proposals and demands that it has just made, and then cant understand why it cant fill the spots & keep them filled.
    well... duh.....

    i am a staff rn in the icu and am on the negotiating team. yesterday i kept getting called to the phone to take calls from staff nurses all over the hospital wanting to make it clear that, if the hospital doesnt move off its stance, the nurses are ready to take a strike vote & authorize our union to schedule a strike, rather than allow any of the hospitals demands as they are. (the union takes direction and its orders from the staff nurses - it's not the other way around)

    another negotiating session is tomorow.
    i just cant wait to hear what the hospital has come up with to show how much it disrespects & devalues us next.
  6. by   -jt
    Quote from destinystar
    taking care of pts. is stressful enough let alone what you are dealing with. i dont know how you get the strength to it. i admire you for your determination. i hope your efforts pay off and that because of them things will change for the better.
    thanks. just to let you know, the nurses didnt back down & after 6 months of negotiating, we got the contract we wanted. ratified it in the beginning of january. retroactive to the previous june. of course it took the hosp's realization that the nurses would indeed strike if admin didnt come to its senses. they withdrew all of their ridiculous demands & agreed to the terms we needed. just goes to show....
    Last edit by -jt on Jun 18, '04
  7. by   Owney
    Administrators do not view nurses as anything but expenses.

    In order to illustrate my point let me tell you a little story. My Friend Bob, an RN, MBA and accountant, told me about his Brother Kevin, a CPA in administration in a large hospital. Kevin found a submission for re imbursement for all of the travel expenses and accomodations of a physician's girl friend (a non-physician) who had attended a conference in Hawaii. Kevin showed this to another adminisrator, and was told, "Don't worry Kevin, if we can't make budget, we'll just lay off a few nurses."

    Administrators view nurses not as needed assets, but strictly as expenses. The longer you show loyalty and knowledge, the less they want to hear your opinion of how to better manage their hospital.

    Nurse salaries account for 85 percent of every hospital admission. How is it that we have nothing to say about how to make health care cost efficient?

    The ANA SUCKS! They helped to fire me from a major health care system. California leads the U.S. in bedside nurses making health care policy. I am pleased to hear of union efforts in Alberta. I may have to move to California or Canada to practice in an environment where bedside nurses MIGHT be listened to.
  8. by   vibe9
    Quote from ainz
    This story illustrates my point very well. If we (nursing) rely on labor unions or nursing unions or any kind of union, it only reinforces and perpetuates the notion that we are common hourly manual labor, a line item expense that must be controlled. We may need unions for the short term but that is not the answer. We must unite, become active in the political system to get laws changed that will recognize the contribution and value of a professional RN. We must also understand the environment we are working in and the people (administrative types) that we are working with. Economics and money is the bottom line. If revenue does not exceed expenses, your doors will close, you will be out of business, and no one will have a job at that place of business, hospital or otherwise. Instead of setting an adversarial situation with a labor union, why not acknowledge the issues that administration has and demonstrate how nursing can help them solve those problems. Why not focus on what we bring to the healthcare system, what our contribution is to the outcome of patients, how we help the hospital. Bickering and demanding things from administration does not work, will not work, and only makes things worse. I have read comment after comment here from nurses that "administration" is not interested in good patient care and only interested in money. I don't think that is exactly true. In any business, to be successful, the first thing you must have is a quality product that people want and will come back for because you did such a great job. Administrators know this very well. Sure they will ALWAYS look for the cheapest way to deliver the product. It should be the job of nursing to demonstrate how nurses help keep the product very high quality and contribute to customer satisfaction. Everyone knows (even administrators) that you get what you pay for. So instead of petty bickering over some contract, why not stand up and look for ways to create a win-win situation, demonstrate with quantitative data how nurses help the hospital improve itself and deliver high quality care that people will return for, show how nurses GENERATE revenue not consume resources. Everyone wants the $$$, even nurses, we all want higher wages, better benefits etc. We need nurses to assume positions of authority and decision-making in hospital administration. It is easy to criticize when you do not have all of the data and facts. We need to know the facts and get the data and show that we are all on the same team working for the same goal--good patient care, good patient outcomes, good place to work, and everyone making a good living!!!!!!





  9. by   vibe9
    Quote from sjoe
    "Is it just us, or does anyone else get the impression that this hospital is doing all it can to drive our nurses out of their jobs???...... "

    It isn't just you AND many hospitals ARE trying to drive activist, assertive, self-confident, political, independent minded, etc. nurses out of the field, without a doubt. They want only compliant, passive, sub-assertive, obedient, "yes, sir. no, sir. three bags full, sir" types to remain.
  10. by   Energizer Bunny
    Can you turn your caps off please? It's very hard to read and is read as "shouting" on the net!!! Thanks a bunch!
  11. by   music
    When nurses speak for themselves in a unified and professional manner, they have more power than they realize. Paying dues to a union to bully and badger only makes you look less professional in many nurses eyes. HOWEVER, over the past 2 years, after reviewing many posts on this and other sites, and speaking with many nurses, I have come to the realization that unionizing may be the only way for SOME nurses at the time. So, this is not an attempt to put down any nurse who is in a union. It is just a request for you to think about how you view yourself as a nurse and who you want to speak for you.

    There are many of us who are realizing that it really is up to us as a group to show the public a more professional side. We don't want to be seen on the sidewalk carrying signs and using our patients as pawns to get what we want. We have found that there is another way and we are growing in numbers. The unions have become a BIG business. Do you really think they care about you..............NO, it's only YOUR MONEY that will help them to keep growing and to gain more entry into politics and creating public policy that may not in the long run have your best interest at heart....or your patients and the doctors who care for them.

    You can easily check this out on on their links to the SEIU and CNA financial statements for 2003 and 2002. This is what union dues go for and this is truly a BIG business. You can bet your bottom dollar that anytime the nurses in these unions go on strike, the salaries of the union employees and top administrators keep getting paid. But the nurses who walk off the job lose a lot in many ways.

    You can also see what nurses who don't believe in unions feel about speaking for themselves at

    Click on some of the links to see what other nurses around the state and country have to say.

    WAKE UP.................We are in demand and needed everywhere. We have our own voice. LET'S USE IT. Instead of complaining about how bad things are, let's surprise our administrations with a unified, professional approach that works for both of us.

    Thanks for listening