Looking for union organizing info (newbie here)

  1. Howdy folks! I'm a newbie here and I look forward to learning from this BB often. I'm a surgical tele nurse 2 years out of school and I work at the largest Catholic hospital "chain" in Illinois. We have begun the long, slow work of organizing a union at all 8 of our hospitals and the administration is turning up the heat on their anti-unionization campaign. They have a high powered (high priced) consulting firm spreading the poop and this week have brought in a nurse from out of state who claims to have had bad experiences with unionizing and striking at a local hospital over ten years ago.
    I guess what I'm aking for is some support, some info, and your experiences as well. We need more ammo to combat the administration as they won't allow us to openly bring our message to our co-workers. Let me know what you can contribute, thanks so much, Bill.
  2. Visit billzie profile page

    About billzie

    Joined: May '03; Posts: 29
    surgical telemetry R.N.


  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    Search re "union busting" threads here:
  4. by   NRSKarenRN
    Best article from Revolution Magazine:

    Understanding "Union Busting"

    Search re "union busting" threads here:
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
  6. by   billzie
    An all nurses union would have been great as far as I'm concerned, however, the union that is campaigning here is an all inclusive one. I really don't mind that too much, due to the size that our chapter will be we will have more than enough nursing voice to make sure that our end of the contract suffices. Also, I have some issues with the ANA member states having an organizing arm. It seems that the ANA has reservations re: unionization as part and parcel of its political agenda even though its' member state associations help form nursing unions.

    Thanks for all of the links, I'm glad there are folks here who understand the right and need to have a collective voice among workers, nurses included, that forces administration to not only hear us, but, then responde accordingly. I'm really tired of all of the lip service.

    Thanks again, and keep the info flowing, Bill.
  7. by   -jt
    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!
    Last edit by -jt on May 8, '03
  8. by   billzie
    Thanks for your insight.
    I've talked around my unit and have found, like with most issues, there are three factions: strongly anti-union, pro-union, and the passive. I've also searched other posts on this board and generally have found just the vocal yeas and nays.
    But, for the folks here who claim to be anti-union they tend to fall into two groups.
    First, you have those that seems to be profiteering from union campaigns and especially strikes, these folks cross the picket lines and work as scabs for a boat load of money, that it seems that money could have been better spent by the hospital quickly negotiating a deal with its' workers. I believe this practice of some nurses is unethical and ultimately brings ALL of us down sooner or later, even those that do it.
    Secondly, you have the folks who staunchly oppose unions as being unprofessional. It seems their only arguement is that unions are for trades and that if you unionize you're an equal with the likes of garbagemen (BTW, garbagemen here make more money than I do, says a lot about social priorities doesn't it?). However, when posed with the question of whether folks like teachers (even college professors), doctors, lawyers, and court clerks are professionals they don't have any logical arguement in those cases.
    So, it seems that these two stances are easily overcome with simple logic.
    At my facility, it appears that most are just fearful. I think this is the most telling aspect of all. This says a lot about the administration and how there good Catholic virtues are put to use in their workplace. If folks are inherently fearful then the administration made them that way. A sad state of affairs for sure.
    Thanks for the help and for listening, Bill.
  9. by   zudy
    Bill, good luck to you. As one who has been thru this experience, let me tell you , buckle your seatbelt, you are in for a bumpy ride. I was astonished at the lengths our local Catholic hospital went to to try and keep unions out. (And please, no flames about mentioning that it is a Catholic hospital, I said this because Bill said he was also in a Catholic hospital) It was not only the huge amts of money they spent to keep the union out, but the way the nurses were treated. It was truly a horrible experience for many of the nurses. PM me if you have any questions.
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    Catholic Health West (Calif. Nurses Assoc- www.calnurses.org) and Catholic Health East (PA -- Mercy Health System SE PA: PASNAP- www.pennanurses.org) have several unionized facilities. I know PASNAP president and can put you in touch with her for ideas if interested.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on May 9, '03
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
  12. by   pickledpepperRN
    Regarding the hospitals anyi- union campaign:
  13. by   billzie
    Thanks again folks for all of your input and support. I was able to find this response from the former co-workers of the RN that the hospital brought in to bad mouth the union:

    On another note...
    We are having our first Organizing Committee open house this Thur and Fri (May 15, 16) from 8am to 8pm at 6060 N. Northwest Hwy Chicago, Il. If any of you folks scoping this thread are from the Chicago area and want to check us out, get/give info, or just shoot the breeze drop in, we're glad to have you! We will be have some folks from around the country to share their experiences organizing. I will be there for parts of both days, but mostly on Thur. If anyone has questions or would just like to talk to me one on one, just email me and we will exchange phone #s.
    Hope to see you there!
    Thanks again folks, Bill.
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    I love the letter.
    Pay attention to your state nurses association!
    Each facility will have different problems and solutions. Your union will be as strong as it's members.

    I quit my job because Tenet bought the nice hospital I loved. Now i work part time at a union hospital for benefits and when up to it work registry. (curious).
    At the CNA hospitals I experience excellent conditions where the nurses work to make it that way. Other hospitals and units where they just pay dues the care is almost as bad as non union facilities. There is even one fine hospital that keeps standards, pay, and benefits up for the purpose of avoiding a union.

    I hope you keep us posted. Good luck to you. with unity you will succeed.