From the UAN nurses organizing webpage:
<<Employers who exercise absolute control over their workplace never
want to share power--even though they're obligated
to do so, if workers so choose. So when a majority of workers say they want a union, managers often will spend millions to threaten every American worker's democratic right to representation by clouding the truth and intimidating employees. According to Cornell University Prof. Kate Bronfenbrenner and the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations:
*Ninety-two percent of employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda
*80 percent require immediate supervisors to attend training sessions on how to attack unions
*79 percent have supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
*Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
Often, knowing ahead of time to expect such unlawful and unethical tactics from management can prepare workers to stay the course during tough organizing drives. Despite these hurdles, when workers come together to resist threats and intimidation from management, they win a powerful voice on the job--a voice that gives them real control over their workplace.
Staff nurses come together at facilities throughout the country to exercise their right to a voice on the job through a union. Sometimes that choice is made easy--when employers do not interfere and when nurses who know the value of speaking with one voice effectively communicate the union advantages to their colleagues. More often these days, nurses seeking to fully exercise their right to belong to a union face intimidation, harassment, loss of their job and more. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Kentucky River case regarding the classification of some nurses as "supervisors" makes the organizing climate even more difficult for RNs.
When workers hold fast in the face of these difficulties, it makes gaining a union that much sweeter. There are six steps on the road to forming a union:
1. Make the decision to form a union. Talk to colleagues about their feelings toward their job. You might be surprised by how receptive some are to collective action. Hold informal meetings or even casual conversations. When managers say, "The union is an outside, third party," you'll know better--the union is YOU.
2. Identify nurses to serve as an organizing committee. Find activists within your facility willing to stand up and talk about nurses' rights to organize a union and what a union can bring to the workers. Work to find 10 percent of nurses willing to serve on the committee from across the facility--every unit, every floor. When managers say, "It's just the disgruntled nurses who want a union," you'll know that's false.
3. Work together to survey nurses, decide on key issues and meet every prospective union member. Have your committee interview different unions and decide which one will represent you best in the way in which you want you to be represented and will best meet your needs.
4. Build support - one department, one unit, one shift, one nurse at a time. Hold small group meetings to educate nurses about unions and the one you and your colleagues have chosen. Share information on your union's contracts across the country and how they compare with your situation. Learn about management at your hospital--finances, trends in other facilities.
5. Survey all nurses about their practice, patient care and workplace issues. Welcome your union's members at other hospitals in your state to come tell you what their workdays and benefits are like.
6. Go public. After talking with your colleagues, answering their questions and concerns, researching management and the union advantage, declare your intention to form a union. Some of the ways you can do this is with a petition, news conference or meeting with management.
_ Now, stay the course.
Once nurses have made the decision to come together and made that decision public, management and anti-union forces may try to impede nurses' freedom to exercise the right to form a union.
INOCULATE prospective union members against the employer's intimidation tactics before it happens by letting them know what to expect. Prepare them with a list of union-busting tactics-and point out to them when one is used. For example, make sure they know ahead of time that many employers threaten loss of flexibility and bankruptcy, or will undertake a "we're a happy family, give us another chance" campaign and the like, so when these tactics are employed, their effect on the knowledgeble, savvy, "innoculated" nurses will be deflated.
Some tactics used by employers are illegal - inform your union if nurses are being brought into anti-unionization meetings with management or are asked by management to discuss their intent to unionize. Depending on circumstances, these tactics could be considered to be coersion, harrassment, intimidation, or employer interference in the worker's federal rights to unionize and should be reported.
_ Continue working until the end.
The work doesn't stop because Election Day dawns. Keep working to make sure every nurse has an opportunity to cast a ballot free of coercion and intimidation. Monitor the counting of ballots and be ready to appeal any irregularities. And remember--after the election, it's time to negotiate your first contract!