University of California, nurses union in last-ditch talks

  1. With a contract set to expire imminently, California's largest nurses union and representatives from the University of California's five teaching hospitals remained at odds. For months, the two sides have disagreed on staffing levels, mandatory overtime shifts, and a longstanding merit pay system.

    Sacramento Bee, May 1, 2002

    "Under the medical center's merit pay system, a nurse hired in 1973 might earn $24.24 per hour, while a nurse who started just a year ago could make an hourly wage of $26.69."

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  3. by   prmenrs
    <2months to retirement, and I'm having to vote on whether to consider a strike!! Unbelievable. I'm having a REALLY hard time--the University is being total a**h*les, and insulting to boot, but it really goes against my values to strike! I'm very conflicted about this.
  4. by   bubba
    I've never been in a situation in which I had to decide to strike or not. But I do think that nurses should strike when needed. I think that it has to be done if nurses will ever be paid what they are worth and get enough help to actuall take care of patients like they should be. Yeah, I know, it may compromise pt care in the short term. But what will happen to pt care in the long run when pay is too low, conditions are not good, and no one wants to go into nursing. There might even be a shortage of nurses causing even worse patient care. Kinda like the one we are having now.
  5. by   prmenrs
    After 34 years in nursing, I am truly heartbroken about this.
  6. by   fedupnurse
    Went thru a lengthy strike several years back. I didn't think twice about voting yes. Felt very bad about having to walk a picket line rather than be at the bedside. It is truly a no win situation for all involved. Our hospital hasn't been the same since. Our hospital basically forced us out. They wouldn't negotiate with us. They thought we'd walk and come crawling back in the next day. Most of us stayed out for the 3 plus months. We all got as much agency work as we wanted. No one crossed for money. If people do not believe in striking they shouldn't work in a unionized hospital. Now if you were there prior to the union I'd exempt you from this.
    One big problem we had was some people who crossed stole other people's jobs. That really caused the biggest rift between those of us who stayed out and those who crossed. New hires who came in during the strike weren't very welcome either. We knew if we didn't stand as strong as we did that the suits would really take matters into their own greedy hands and we would have no voice for our patients at all. I would never want to go through it again but I feel I am a stronger person for it.
    Don't let the suits know how scared you guys are. All of you should apply for Agency jobs and let the suits know you are prepared to walk. Also, get the community on your side. Our suits controlled the local media (by awarding them seats on the board beforehand!) so only the hospital's side was really portrayed. We went to local town council meetings and spoke with people, nursing homes, etc. to get the word out about what the real issues are.
    Good luck. Have you thought about retiring now instead of 2 months from now???
    I'll be thinking about you guys if you go out. Been there and done it and it ain't no fun t'all.
  7. by   Gomer
    According to the "LA Times" the union wants pay based on longevity not merit. If that is true a nurse with the most years on the job within the system would make the most $$$'s; whether or not he/she was clinically skilled or had a good evaluation. What do you think of that?
  8. by   prmenrs
    I WAS there LLOONNGGG before it was unionized--and if this somehow messes up my retirement, I will be one VERY UNHAPPY PERSON. I'm not scared--just pi**ed and disheartened. Maybe that's scared in other language. Anyway, I would just really like for the University to act like human beings for a change, and play nice. Hmmm, THAT sounds like it's not gonna happen. BUMMER!

    Can't retire right now, I'm just starting the paperwork to go out July 1st. The system can't work any faster than that.

    As far as pay based on longevity vs merit--wouldn't bother me too much right now. But, realistically, it ought to be both! Right now you have to walk on water to get an eval that qualifies for a raise--lots of committee stuff, projects--mostly on your own time, coming in on your day off, etc. Not to mention all the certifications and competencies we have to maintain. I think if you can maintain a satisfactory, you ought to get something!? besides a "do better next year". IMHO
    Last edit by prmenrs on May 6, '02
  9. by   -jt
    <<According to the "LA Times" the union wants pay based on longevity not merit. If that is true a nurse with the most years on the job within the system would make the most $$$'s; whether or not he/she was clinically skilled or had a good evaluation. What do you think of that?>>

    Many states, facilities, and nursing units require a certain amount of continuing education annually to keep the RN up to date, and even in those that dont, each year brings the RN more experience and knowledge - and that benefits the facility & the pts. This is something to be recognized and valued. The way to do that is by compensating for it financially.

    Havent we all complained when a unit is staffed with just new nurses? If experience & longevity were not something to be valued, no one would think there was anything wrong with having an entire staff of new inexperienced nurses, would they?

    If the nurse is not "clinically skilled", she has no business being there. If she didnt have a "good evaluation" (Which, btw, is open to interpretation & some managers arbitrary opinion), the manager can take a course of action to remedy that.

    The employee with the longevity & experience earning more than a newer, less experienced employee is the way it should be - as it is in every union - theyve "paid their dues" - literally - and btw, thats where that term comes from. Their experience & longevity is valuable & beneficial to the pts & facility.

    In a merit raise system, an exceptional nurse does not get what shes worth because the hospital has already decided its not giving raises higher than a certain amount - no matter what youve really merited anyway. (theres a whole thread about this here).

    How disrespected does a good nurse feel when she has been working successfully in a facility for years and the NM's pet who has been there much less than she has is earning more? In a merit raise system, I may "merit" less of a raise than another nurse because I have 3 kids, other responsibilities outside of work, and cant work overtime, cant change my schedule, and cant be available at the drop of a hat & another nurse may be single, have no other obligations, and never say no to overtime or anything else they ask of her. In the managers opinion, that nurse may "merit" a higher raise than me - even if we were equal in the work we do. Is it fair if I was not compensated for my worth because of my life outside of work, even if I was just as a good a nurse as the other nurse??

    The nurse with the longevity and more experience should be compensated for both. If she isnt doing her job, the hospital has a disciplinary system outlined in their Human Resources Manual to deal with that, and if she doesnt improve after being informally warned, they can take progressive action. The rest of the nurses should not be penalized with inadequate compensation of their worth just for that person. Longevity & experience should be compensated for.

    RNs in Nyack, NY last year stayed out on a famous strike for 6 months, partly to prevent the hospital from instituting a merit raise system. The RNs won. Their experience/longevity raise system remains intact. Teachers in NYC have been fighting the city for months & are preparing to strike over the same issue.

    There are other ways to reward an exceptional employee for a job well done than by ignoring her longevity, experience and the valuable benefits they bring to the facility.
    Last edit by -jt on May 7, '02
  10. by   DethOkay
    I say strike.
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    By Lisa Rapaport -- Bee Staff Writer
    Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Friday, May 10, 2002

    Registered nurses voted to authorize the first strike at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and four other University of California teaching hospitals, the state's largest nurses union announced Thursday. California Nurses Association officials said they will give UC 10 days' notice before any walkout, which would not occur before May 20.

    In voting held Tuesday and Wednesday, 95 percent of nurses voted to authorize a strike, union officials said. They did not disclose how many of the 8,000 members at UC teaching hospitals and student health centers actually voted.

    Full story:
  12. by   traumaRUs
    While working for the government (VA Med Center), the non-professional (union) staff went on strike, at the same time that as the end of the fiscal year. This was in 1994 and we (RN's) didn't get paid for six weeks!!!! We went to work - worked mega-OT to cover for everyone else: LPNs, secretaries, housekeeping, food service, etc.. and basically got a pat on the head, like we were suposed to just do it!!!

    I have never been part of a union and don't have strong feelings either way, but I do know that pt care is continuously being compromised!!!!!