Unions/Attitudes - page 4

:( I am a Clinical Educator and part of a large corp. hospital system. Over the last two yrs, there has been lots of Union activity in our area. Not all of it is at the corp I work for. There are... Read More

  1. by   -jt
    <<What made the nurses in your hospital want to unionize? >>

    Control over the conditions of their employment. Legally binding guarantees of those conditions. The fact that when the nurses are not a union, what ever the employers promise & give to them is only given while the employers WANT to give it. When they change their minds, poof!.....its gone. But as a union, anything you obtain from your employer - salary, benefits, working conditions, workplace safety, professional practice issues (like safe staffing ratios, floating restrictions, the hospitals nursing education responsibilities to you, etc) is GUARANTEED in a legally binding contract & cannot just disappear.

    Just like the conditions of your administrator's employment are guaranteed in HIS contract with the hospital's Board. The Board cant just walk in one day & tell him theyre cutting his salary or changing anything else because HE has a legal, binding, written contract that holds them to their promises. If its good for the gander, its good for the goose.

    Lets say you are not a union and you had free health benefits and a prescription plan yesterday. Thats good. But then tomorrow, when the employer has his quarterly financial meeting & sees that profits are down & he wants to cut expenses, if you are not a union, HE decides that the hospital will no longer pay for your health benefits and will reduce your prescription plan so you will now be paying much more. If you are not a union, you eat it or look for another job (but once he gets away with this, most other palces in the area will try to do the same thing, so where you gonna go???).

    If you are a union, the employer has to come up with some other way to cut his expenses because he cant even think about trying this with you or doing anything else to you without your consent.
    We unionized so we would have legal rights & no longer be at the mercy of some businessman's daily whims and so we could be part of the decision-making that affects us, our practice and our jobs.

    <<What made them not want to?>>

    NOBODY didnt want to. Being a union member is a mind set in this city. You get a job, you join the union. Its a given. Practically automatic. Its what built this city. Just about every relative you have is in a union. Even office workers and secretaries are unionized. Almost EVERBODY is in a union. Its just the way it is. Its not something people are afraid of. Its something that is expected.

    The trick is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK, interview several organizations, talk to their other members, shop around, and go with the one that is the strongest, most productive, understands your important issues, & will best represent you the way you want to be represented.

    <<Any advice for us?>>

    Well, since you are having your vote next month, its assumed that you already did all of the above so vote YES. And remember that once you do, the real work begins. The union office is there to guide you, back you up, & provide the resources, but YOU will be "the union" & its up to YOU to make it work at your facility. Nobody can do that for you. Get involved.

    If anybody there is in confusion & doubt because of all the lobbying & propaganda your hospital is throwing at you to try to get you to get rid of the union for them, ask yourself one question.......

    If unionizing was not a good thing for nurses and didnt actually give them a share of the control over their workplaces, WHY is the hospital trying SO HARD to stop you from unionizing? Hmmmmm......

    Good luck with your vote.
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 3, '02
  2. by   SoniaNurseRep
    Again, jt, you're right on.
  3. by   GreytNurse
    A year ago, several co-workers and I began a journey that I won't soon forget. We began a campaign for union representation because our Administrative staff didn't listen to our needs (the ones who were covering shifts short and making excuses to the families.....the ones who were offered NO benefits except overtime.....when we were allowed to work it)
    Administration didn't care and we are also a 'right to work state', which means if the DON didn't like your hair......you would be looking for a new job. It was that petty!
    Anyway, we did a march on the boss, presented him with the notification that we, nurses and cna's were in the process of organizing a union drive. That was August 5, 2001. Of 18 that showed interest, by Nov.1 none of us remained. We were all fired for some lame-brain reason or another. We files suit with the NLRB (national labor relations board) and the facility was found guilty. You wouldn't believe the 'lying under oath' that the admin staff and corporate people did! I was afraid that lightening was going to come through the ceiling at any minute!
    We were given 6 months back pay, accurred vacation and they even had the gall to offer us our jobs back......they are severely under staffed and can't keep nurses/cna's due to the publicity, but guess what we suggested they do with their jobs????:imbar

    Would I campaign again....go through this again?????? If I needed to I would. It was a hard road and lots of headaches, but if the nurses are treated right, paid right and respected for the jobs we do, there wouldn't be any need for us to seek out union affiliation in the first place.
  4. by   -jt
    Fired for attempting to unionize BUT...........

    <<<We were all fired for some lame-brain reason or another. We filed suit with the NLRB (national labor relations board) and THE FACILITY WAS FOUND GUILTY.......... We were given 6 months back pay, accurred vacation and they even had the gall to offer us our jobs back......>>>

    See? Its federal law that we have the right to be a union. They CANT fire us for doing this....... UNLESS we let them. The sooner more of us realize it & get over the fear of it, the better off we'll all be.
  5. by   SoniaNurseRep
    Management preys on the fear and lack of knowledge. Nurses need to be aware of their rights so they can combat the intimidation instilled by management. Knowledge and unity are our best defense.
  6. by   teeituptom
    Howdy yall
    From deep in the heart fo texas.
    To unionize or not to unionize. Thats is the question or is it the answer. Whether its better to face the slings and arrows of the administrative forces or not. Sounds vaguely familiar somehow. This is a debate that has gone on for years. Are unions the answer, possibly. Where would nursing be today if nurses in some areas hadnt unionized decades ago and helped raise the standard of education, the standard of pay, helped improve the work place, by representing nurses. Then other non union hospitals had to raise their pay and working conditions to match what the union hospitals standards or they would lose a bunch of nurses to them. Have unions helped nursing on the whole, I would have to answer YES. Are they the current answer to problems, I would have to answer, I DONT KNOW. But you got to remember I live in TEXAS the land that totally abhors unions of any type down here in the GOOD OLE BOY POLITICAL ENVIROMENT. I do miss Anne Richards, I dont miss Little Georgie W. Bush. Can unions be detrimental to nursing as a profession, thats a possibility. Can they be of assitance to nursing as a profession, that is quite possible. I suppose any one persons views can be affected by the way they were raised. My father who was always an administrator of sorts was always antiunion big time, he used to yell at the evils of unionization, but then it was his job to yell at them. Me, Im an assitant nurse manager, so Im somewhere in the middle. Can unions be mismanaged, I would have to answer YES. Can hospital administration be unsupportive and abusive to nurses. I would imagine the answer is probably most definitely YES. The hospital where Im at I will say treats us very well, So Im happy where Im at. If I wasnt I wouldnt have put 14 to 15 years into the workplace here, So I, as an individual am happy. So I would have to say Im evenly divided on the issue of unioization. It can be both good and bad. Ill leave that to someone far smarter than me to determine. And Ill keep an open mind to all possibilities
    Keep it in the short grass, yalll
    Last edit by teeituptom on Mar 4, '02
  7. by   chocolab
    Our hospital unionized 20 years ago and I have only been there for 15 years but I see the good the union has done. Our medical benefits are excellant and they can't change them unless they give us equal or better..no withdrawing medical payments or making us take lesser coverage.Unions can have their problems too but in this day and age nurses need support from somewhere..and they are not getting it from the ANA!!!!!!!
  8. by   GreytNurse
    Janhertherington.....What part of Missouri are you in???
    Nursing union......."very new to Missouri"?????? I'm afraid not. There are several hundred thousand union members in Missouri.

    Hang tight and stand your ground!! You have the right to organize/support union activity. DON'T let administration to intimidate,bully or threaten you. Keep your union reps informed of any type of this activity. I personally carried a small tape recorder with a lapel mic clipped to my bra under my scrubs. If I was called to ANYONE'S office, I turned it on before entering.....but didn't let anybody know I had it on!
    I hope you and your co-workers are victorious, keep us posted!
  9. by   imuscle
    I find it interesting that more and more nurses are finally opening their eyes and seeing that union is the only way to go. And as far as nurses refusing patient assignments...good for them...it's about time. Each RN has his or her own license granted to them from the BRN not the hospital management. Each RN should know that they have the right to refuse a assignment. If the RN feels that the assignment is too heavy, too unsafe, it is the RN's responsibility to make it known and refuse if all other measures fail. I personally would report the facility to the Dept. of Health services. I am very prounion and have seen hospital management change their tune when nurses rally together and say "no". It's about time. If more RNs in hospital management would be qualified to work in the units they cover, many of these problems would not exist. But they lie about their credentials to get the big bucks and get a supposedly 9 to 5 job. As far as I'm concerned...if your are in management, your responsibility is 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Hospitals do not close in the evening. I hope more nurses in this country open their eyes and become more assertive with their patient assignments.
  10. by   imuscle
    I can tell you one thing...I work in a union hospital...there is absolutely no way I would earn the money I earn now if it wasn't for the union. Our facility has over 450 RNs and we are a closed shop...and very strong. Within the next two years, I wil be making 40.00/hr with time and a half after 8 hours...we work 12 hour shifts. Our contract guarantees this pay scale. Name one nonunion hospital that guarantees there nurses this type of money. Another thing, I work ICU and the idea of three patients to one RN in the ICU in the state of California is against the law...but don't think that hospital management won't try...except where I work...the dept. of Health gets notified. Management will try to persuade you otherwise because they are afraid...they lose their power of control and of discipline when you become union. Plus the unions have great contacts such as the National Labor Relations Board, The Dept. of Health, the Joint commission...now can you see why hospitals don't want nurses to unionize...NURSES BECOME FEARLESS AND INDEPENDENT AND START MAKING THE RULES THAT MAKE PATIENT SAFETY A PRIORITY.:chuckle
  11. by   -jt
    <we are a closed shop...and very strong.>

    Closed shop is the ONLY way to be very strong.

    (and the rest of your excellent post hit the nail right on the head.)
  12. by   -jt
    We just had a day at our state Capitol to educate the legislators on what is happening to nurses & in nursing & what we need them to do to fix it. Below is part of the text of one of the presentations we made to the senators, assemblymen & media. So what does one Republican federal Congressman's health aide back home have to say about nursings situation? "Why should the government pass laws that have to do with the staffing levels and the hours you work. Its a labor issue. Isnt that what unions and contracts are for?"

    hmmmm... yes it is & lots of us are so fortunate as to have that, but its also a public health and safety issue & what about the many nurses who dont have union contracts? And what about the right-to-work states that have laws which make it so difficult for those nurses to?

    How interesting that even the lawmakers in government are telling us we should be taking control of the situation ourselves, & setting down our own conditions of employment with legally binding contracts by unionizing and still some nurses wont do it.

    Nurses Link Working Conditions To Exodus of RNs From Patient Care

    Albany, NY - March 11, 2002 - Thousands of registered nurses are no longer working in patient care settings because of intolerable working conditions. That was the message delivered today by nurses attending the annual legislative workshop sponsored by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA).

    At a noontime news conference, NYSNA President Robert Piemonte warned that workplace conditions must be improved to reverse a disturbing trend - registered nurses leaving patient care for jobs that provide predictable working hours, less stress, and fewer physical risks.

    "Nurses are leaving patient care because they're burned out, fed up, and just plain tired," he said. "They're tired of trying to deliver patient care without enough staff. They're tired of not knowing whether they're going to be mandated to work overtime. They're tired of running the risk of back injuries, exposure to infection, and even physical attacks."

    Piemonte and nurses at the news conference urged the State Legislature to enact legislation that would prohibit employers from forcing nurses to work overtime, except in the case of a declared emergency. Nurses who work excessive hours are more likely to make medical mistakes, are prone to injury, and experience high levels of job stress.

    "Nurses face a Catch-22 situation. According to their professional standards, they should not work if they are too tired to practice safely. But if they refuse to work overtime, under state law they can be charged with patient abandonment," Piemonte said.

    Mandatory overtime is one reason a growing number of nurses are leaving patient care.

    A national survey of nurses conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that the number of RNs employed in nursing in the U.S. increased by only 4 percent between 1996 and 2000. During the same period, the number of licensed RNs not employed in nursing increased by more than 11 percent.

    In New York State, the survey estimated that the percentage of RNs not employed in nursing increased from 15.2 percent in 1996 to 19.0 percent in 2000, higher than the national rate of 18.3 percent.

    Piemonte said the expected passage of a state healthcare whistleblower protection bill is an important foundation for NYSNA's legislative proposals to improve working conditions for nurses.

    "Legislation to set staffing levels or ban mandatory overtime can work only if nurses feel that the law protects them when they report violations," he said. "Nurses must be empowered to exercise their professional judgment and speak up on behalf of patients."

    NYSNA's solutions to the nursing care crisis also include these measures:

    Ensuring Safe Staffing: Legislation that would require the state to establish and enforce guidelines for safe staffing in all healthcare settings.

    Disclosure of Quality Indicators: Legislation that would require healthcare facilities to disclose information related to the quality of nursing care, such as nurse-to-patient ratios, staffing levels, and patient outcomes.

    Ban Mandatory Overtime: Zero tolerance legislation to prohibit mandatory overtime for RNs and LPNs except in government-declared emergencies.

    Whistleblower Protection: Nurses must have the right to speak up for their patients and advocate for them without fear of losing their livelihood when they do.

    Violence Prevention: Incidents of violence against nurses have been on the rise in hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and other settings. This legislation would require employers with 50 or more employees to develop and implement plans to protect employees against violence. >>>>>>
    Last edit by -jt on Mar 21, '02
  13. by   Pam Johnson
    Various professionals which include police officers, teachers, et.al. & even physicians have unions. Has their union affiliation kept them from providing adequate community/public services. Nurses deserve better working conditions & treatment on the job, along with the patients deserving quality care. Working in nursing today is analogous to working in the sweats shops of yesteryear in this country. Nurses don't support eachother or look after eachother. Nurses have become apathetic. There is too much @ stake, to not endorse unionization. It's long overdue. Nurses are treated with bias & inequitably on the job. Many good , competent nurses have lost there jobs through the years. Yet I've also seen nurses who have behaved unprofessionally, unethically, unsafe;y & perhaps incompetently thrive on the job. The politics in nursing are rediculous. You'd never see physicians treat eachother as unprofessionally as nurses do. it's time to see the light. Nursing as a profession, far from it, this profession is circling the drain relatively speaking. We need to become pro-active & working toward national unionization. Patients & nurses are both @ risk. Allnurses.com would be a perfect medium for just such an effort. Write the legislators of your states & nation. United we stand, divided we fall.

    Pam J. RN-WI.
    Last edit by Pam Johnson on Mar 27, '02