Union for us! HELP!

  1. I live in a anti union state. So what. The nurses I work with have collectively decided and joined the ANA/UAN's union affiliate for our collective bargaining. They have agreed to rep us! The entity that we work for is reluctant to recognize our union despite the fact that they recognize several other unions. The nurses have been shut out from unionizing for many years. They offered us to join a non professional union that they already recognize, which we declined. The other members of that union are lowest paid, least educated, blue collar workers. SW, PT, OT, ST all belong to a professional union which is recognized.
    Now there are several nurses who will testify in front of a decision board as to why we nurses should be recognized as being represented by the nurses union. They have a history of turning the nurses requests down. I am wondering, since they already have unions, can they refuse to recognize us and offer us to join a union of their choosing that they already recognize and have a relationship with? Also, I am one of the nurses who will make our plea before the board. What should I expect? What are important things that I should know? What points need to be made? I have never done this before. This is my first experience with unionization. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Visit flowerchild profile page

    About flowerchild

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 567; Likes: 13
    Clinic, HHC, Peds


  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    Can't help here..... Calling JT, need your advise/contacts......
  4. by   Edward,IL
    You have made a wise decision to bargain collectively. You have made a wise decision to go with ANA/UAN. Stick to your guns. Call ANA reps with your questions, they've been doing this for years. Your hospital administration also has years of experience playing head games to keep out a Professional voice from the discussion.
    We have a long history of collective bargaining in IL-Chicago area. Even after decades of collective bargaining, they still resent nurses' authority re nursing practice, working conditions, etc. and go to great lengths to undremine our authority.
    Their day is coming. Minimum staffing ratios are here and will quickly move from state to state (there is no legitimate argument why patients in one state are unworthy or undeserving of the same high-quality nursing care that Californians can now receive). They can save their lame excuces of "not budgeted for that" or "an UAP is just as effective at the bedside as an RN" for the Governor's office.
    Get your union in place as your representative, in court if necessary. That is a necessary first step.
    All staff nurses need to read about the history of collective bargaining and become as savvy as they can to avoid
    mistakes from the past.
    Do a literature review of ANA publications (AJN, Nursing Outlook) and other nursing and general labor law publications.
    This is a long, tedious process but well worth it.
    Keep in mind, they are afraid of us. We have the power to make or break a hospital. PT, OT, MSW, MD's are all dependent on Nursing. The more control we have of our practice decreases their power and they are threatened by us.
    Watch them squirm!
    Ed, IL
  5. by   OC_An Khe
    If UAN has agreed to represent you, and you have collected enough enrollment cards from the potential members saying that they want UAN as their collective bargaining representative, then the NLRB will order an election. Any other Union who gets signature card can also be on the ballot. Whoever get the majority of votes, of those voting that day, including the votes for no union wins. That will be who represents you. If no one wins a majority there will be a runoff election between the top vote getter and no union. Its the members forming the Union that determines who represents them, not the employer.
    Once a bargaining unit has done the above, negotiations can start but if the facility refuses to bargain or recognize that particular union you will have a long but worthwhile fight on your hands.
    Last edit by OC_An Khe on Feb 8, '03
  6. by   flowerchild
    Thank you for the responses.

    Still awaiting jt's insight. :-)

    We have done everything we need to do to and are now rep'd through the ANA/UAN.
    We are at the point where we must prove that we nurses should be represented by a nursing union rather than the non professional union that is already recognized by the employer. The LPN's by their own choice and CNA's belong to the non professional union as well as plant operators, janitorial, and food service personell. We as RN's have refused their invitations b/c we are professionals. Prior to their invitation we they had not offered us any alternatives and turned down all requests to join the professional union. They refuse to let us join the professional union that is already recognized by the employer that the ST, PT, OT, and SW already belong. One of the main reasons they give is b/c RN entrance level is ADN rather than BSN. They feel we all must have bachelors degrees in order to be considered professionals. The BSN and ADN nurses have stood strong in support of not splitting us up into two groups, total support to each other here and recognition from all of us nurses that we are all professionals. (I have read on this BB that many feel it is not important that we recognize ourselves as professionals -- here is a clear example as to why we must not do this to ourselves). We nurses are getting shafted here and know it. We have been fighting for many years and thankfully, one nurse imparticular has been documenting and collecting documents from the employer for all those years. We will be ready to prove our case.

    What I need to know is what to expect when I have to testify in front of the board. The board will make the decision to recognize us or deny to recognize us. If they refuse, we will certainly take it to court through legal avenues. The ANA attorney is supposed to call me soon and I look forward to learning and following his advice. The area that I need to research and get ready is Why we are different than the employees of the non prof union. Why we don't belong in that union. We will also present our case as to Why we need a nurses union to rep us rather than a non nurse union.
    Any and all thoughts here are greatly appreciated and needed.
  7. by   -jt
    Congratulations and welcome to our union!

    Im in NYC - dont know which state youre in - but if youve decided to become to part of the United American Nurses (UAN), we're in it together. First, wanted to point out that the UAN (an affiliate of the AFL-CIO) is also the exclusive labor union for the ANA. The UAN came into existence because staff RN members of the ANA wanted to remain with the ANA, but also create an organization for the nurse working at the patient's side & which would focus more on their labor issues. The ANA encompasses ALL RNs and ALL issues related to nursing. It is not a union. The UAN is a separate autonomous branch within the ANA & is only for the working staff nurse & their workplace issues.

    Any group of staff nurses in any state can unionize with the UAN (although their employers will try to stop them from unionzing at all because employers dont want to have to answer to their nurses or share any control with them). Not all ANA members can be part of the UAN because the union is only for the working staff RN, but all UAN members are also members of their state nurses assoc, the AFL-CIO, and the ANA, and pay only one membership dues. And only the dues of the UAN members go to support the UAN. The dues of non-union ANA members do not go to the UAN. It is your state nurses association, as part of the UAN, that represents you in your workplace, not the ANA.

    The UAN is the national labor union for RNs and the largest RN union in the nation with over 100,000 direct-patient-care RNs from 24 states (including some in the south) and the US Virgin Islands & Washington DC, so far. Only nurses working in direct care can be unionized with the UAN & they work in places like hospitals, nursing homes, schools, dialysis centers, surgical centers, clinics, home care, hospice, etc. The union is run by working staff nurse members who are elected by the rest. To read more about who they are this term, see a previous post:
    "So you live in an anti-union state --- so what?"
    Last edit by -jt on Feb 8, '03
  8. by   -jt
    Staff RNs need to be in their own union because our issues are very different from the issues of the other personnel in the hospital. Just as the employer would not expect the building engineers, carpenters, and electricians to be in the same union as the kitchen workers, they should not expect RNs to have the same needs as others either. And most importantly, the employer has no say whatsoever in which union you decide to join. It is the law that eligible workers have the right to choose to join any union they want to join as a group. The WORKERS decide and the employer can have no say in the matter. It is against the law for them to hold meetings with you to try to coerce you or alter your decision in any way. Thats called "unfair labor practice".

    ***Professional issues like continuing education, dangerous practices like unqualified floating, forced overtime and short staffing when you are holding 10 or more lives in your exhausted hands, the need for stepped up recruitment and retention initiatives for manageable patient loads, and just basically all your professional workplace and patient advocacy issues, are not issues of importance to others like the housekeeping staff. Nor do those workers have a professional obligation to patient advocacy. No offense to those workers is intended. Its just that they and RNs have different needs and requirements. RNs have a state professional Nurse Practice Act and national professional Code of Nurse Ethics to uphold and adhere to, which non-nurses may not be familiar with, understand the ramifications of, or realize why it is a priority for you. Your professional RN union does and works to ensure that you are able to uphold those standards in your workplace. If the RNs are in the same union as all the other workers, sometimes these important professional RN issues can get lost in the shuffle because the RNs are the minority in that large group and the majority comes first.***

    If you have your own union, the trade union can service its members as they need, and the RNs union can address just the issues relevant to the RN staff. Without having to deal with the RN's patient care problems (which today are many), the trade union can concentrate more on the other things its own members need and the RN union can concentrate on just the RNs and patient care issues. Both groups then get more focused, better representation from their respective unions. Its for these reasons that RNs in my hospital voted to get out of the service workers trade union in 1984 & voted to join our professional state nurses association instead. (and that was pre-UAN). We believed that a union run by & for RNs only, as our state association is, can better understand & address our professional concerns and devote themselves to them.

    That is not to say that some trade unions dont do a good job for RNs. Some do. It was just our experience that out of all 3,000 employees in the trade union at our facility, the mere 700 of us who were RNs kept getting our problems put on the back burner by the majority, which had much different concerns than things like floating to areas which we werent qualified for. The way they saw it was an LPN is a nurse & an RN is a nurse so whats the big deal if you have only 1 RN and 2 LPNs for 40 patients? You got 3 nurses dont you? (never mind trying to explain that the lone RN really had responsibility for all 40 pts). And if the housekeeper can work in med-surg today & ICU tomorrow & pediatrics on Wednesday, why cant the RNs just stop complaining and do it too? Nobody but the RNs saw that any of this was a problem for us, but since we were just a fraction of the group, their problems came first & we kept getting put on hold. So we got out & went to the RNs professional union, where our professional issues like patient safety and patient advocacy would be the top & only priority.

    For more on why RNs need to be in their own union,see:
    "America's Staff Nurses Cite Higher Pay, Better Staffing as Top Solutions to Shortage"


    [I]"National Shortage of Hospital Staff Nurses"[/]

    The Working Conditions of Registered Nurses and Their Relation to Patient Safety

    I dont understand why you have to prove that you dont belong in the other workers union. It is your federal right to choose to belong to any union you want to belong to. Only you as a group can make the decision on which one that will be. And you dont have to prove or defend to anyone else why you choose any particular union, so I dont get what this hearing is about. The employer cant refuse to recognize your union unless it formally questions the legality of the vote, the unions tactics in conducting the vote, claims that the union harrassed or otherwise illegally obtained your vote, or if it claims that you are not eligilble to be in a union at all. If it files claim to any of these things, it doesnt have to prove it until the court case comes up, which can be a long time away because of back-logs on the court calender, so even if it knows the claims are false, they buy themselves time to keep you non-union longer & hope your committment, strength & unity deissolves eventually, you forget all about it & give up. Its a typical union-busting tactic to stall... stall.... and stall some more.... and hope the nurses attention span isnt that long.

    I have a feeling your employer will try to use the argument that their nurses are not entitled to be in any union because they "supervise" other personnel. Employers are trying to stall nurse unionizing with this tactic, calling them "supervisors", & tying the decision up in the backlogged courts. This is the case with a group of nurses in Utah who also recently elected the UAN as their union. But the burden of proof that nurses are "supervisors" at their facility is on the employer. The employer might not win, but they can keep the ballots impounded, not recognize the union for the duration, & leave the nurses in limbo until the court gets around to hearing the case & making a decision. For more on this latest tactic, see:
    Employers Use a Supreme Court Ruling to Exclude RNs From Unions
  9. by   -jt
    Two good eye-opening books to read:
    "Confessions of a Union Buster" by Marin Jay Levitt
    also available in some libraries.

    "Honoring Our Past - Building Our Future - the first 100 years of the New York State Nurses Association" Written by Julie Pavri, a nurse and former staff librarian at NYSNA, the book recounts
    in 200 pages and 136 photographs the birth of the nation's first state nurses association, and the beginnings of the nursing profession in the US, and nurses' unionizing. Very impressive & inspiring. Costs $35, I think, but well worth it.
    contact: information@nysna.org
  10. by   OC_An Khe
    As usual -jt has a wealth of information to share.
    But do remember it is not the employer who gets to choose which union represents you. It is the RNs that do, backed by US Supreme Court decisions. This is all smoke and delaying tactics by the employer. Don't fall for it, stay strong. Testifying before the NLRB is not something to fear, as I have done it many times in the past.
    Another site you could look at unionist.com
    Last edit by OC_An Khe on Feb 9, '03
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    I found some links of interest:
    From 1999 Nurse Week:

    Pulled Apart
    Does unionizing serve the interests of the profession?

    Do you have a job-related problem?

    The National Labor Relations Board administers the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which oversees private sector labor relations, i.e., the relationship between employers, unions and employees, and the rights of employees to form, join or assist a labor organization and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing or to refrain from such activities. The NLRB's primary mission is:
    *Preventing and remedying unfair labor practices by employers or unions, and
    *Holding elections at which employees decide if they wish to be represented by unions
    NLRB Help Desk

    Myths Dispelled and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Labor Unions

    Union Talk for Nurses

    Mass. Nurses Assoc--organizing

    Nurse Unionization in America
    November, 1999

    Labor Notes
    Putting the Movement Back in the Labor Movement

    ... spread the word" concerning the benefits of unionizing. With this goal in mind,
    HPAE members voted to affiliate with the Federation of Nurses and Health ...

    Special Aspects of Employment in the Health Care Industry: Recent ... http://www.bna.com/bnabooks/ababna/a...98/t57am98.pdf

    Virtul Unions---a place to talk

    The Rise and Fall of the Nursing Union http://jeffersonnurses.tripod.com/doc5.htm

    Supreme Court decision expands definition of "supervisor"
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Feb 11, '03
  12. by   flowerchild
    Thank you very much for the wealth of information that you all have provided. I am so new to all this that your help is very valuable to me. I wouldn't really know where to begin. Thank you for helping out. I have much to learn and we have a long fight ahead.

    jt, I thought the same thing when I heard that the board had to vote as to weather we would be recognized by them. I thought they would have no choice but to hear us as a unionized unit, I thought that was one of my rights protected by law. I hope that is true but there are always loopholes in laws and I have no idea what they are yet.
    There are several unions that the employer does already recognize. Perhaps there is some law that states an employer only has to recognize so many unions??? From what I've heard they say they already recognize enough different unions. Although, one of them is AFL/CIO, the plumbers have this representation but it is not a unit open to anyone but the plumbers.
    It also has something to do with the fact that despite unionization blocking methods and bullying by them for many years, they finally offered us an invitation to join one of the unions they recognize. It wasn't an offer that we accepted or agreed with but according to them, that was their offer, as it is the same offered to many other employees. We have to prove why we don't belong in the non prof union for service employees and why we need a union unit that is specific for nurses.
    Like I said, I have a lot to learn. I thank you again for you time and effort in helping me gain the knowledge I need to help win this fight. I have a feeling that it will end up in court on the grounds you mentioned, using the supervisory role as a reason to stall us.
  13. by   -jt
    I still dont understand why you have to prove that you should have the union you want. The employer can have no say in which union you choose. I hope you can give us an update after the hearing & let us know how it turns out.

    The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (the Wagner Act)

    Certain unfair practices which employers had used against workers to prevent unionization and to cripple their economic strength had been uncovered by Senator Robert Wagner. Senator Wagner's bill enumerated several "unfair practices" to be prohibited, such as the sponsoring by employers of company unions, interfering with employees' choice of bargaining representatives, and refusal to bargain with elected agents.

    Under Senator Wagner's bill a new labor board would be set up, fully equipped with staff to investigate and powers to enforce the provisions of the act.

    In 1935, the bill, the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) was signed into law by President Roosevelt and established the rights of workers to join trade unions and to bargain collectively with their employers through representatives of the employees own choosing.

    Robert F. Wagner's speech in the Senate (31st March, 1937)

    "The uprising of the common people has come, as always, only because of a breakdown in the ability of the law and
    our economic system to protect their rights. The sitdown has been provoked by the long-standing and ruthless tactics of a few great corporations who have hamstrung the National Labor Relations Board by invoking court actions, which they have a perfect legal right to do; who have openly banded together to defy this law of Congress quite independently of any court action, which they have neither the legal nor the moral right to do; and who have systematically used spies and discharges and violence and terrorism to shatter the workers' liberties as decided by Congress, which they have neither the legal nor the moral right to do. The organized and calculated and cold-blooded sitdown against Federal law has come not from the common people, but from a few great vested interests. Make men free, and they will be able to negotiate without fighting."

  14. by   -jt
    <Perhaps there is some law that states an employer only has to recognize so many unions???>

    I never heard of that. As far as I know, the employees decide themselves which union they want to be in & whether the employer likes it or not doesnt have any bearing. The AFL-CIO is not a union itself. Its an organization made up of many different unions together. Some or all of the unions at your facility might be members of the AFL-CIO but they are still separate, distinct unions. Your employer cant tell you which one of them to join. If you had a legal election and your employer is refusing to recognize it, then your union must have filed unfair labor practice charges against the hospital and brought the case to the NLRB to get it to enforce the law & force the employer to recognize you. Your testimony is to prove that the election was conducted legally & this is the union that the nurses themselves want.

    I cant think of any reason why the employer would have been the one to bring the case to the NLRB other than to say that the election was illegal, coerced, and invalid or to try to prove that you are not eligible to be in a union at all. They cant go to the NLRB & say "listen, we have enough unions here. We want the nurses to join one of those". It doesnt matter what the employer wants.
    Last edit by -jt on Feb 11, '03