What is wrong with unionizing? - page 2

All, It would seem that a union,with its power of cohesiveness to the issues,would be the only thing that a corporation would HAVE to listen to. The contract would HAVE to be honored. Forming... Read More

  1. by   Tookie
    My union is okay but they are pretty week compared to the VIC Nurse's Union. I agree ortho nutter - l because l now work in a different state no longer belong to the Victorian ANF - Had tpo change as l wwork in a different (NSW) However generall the fedartions through out Austrlaia are strong and motivated positively by doing the best for their members and the flow on is to all nurses.

    When the federations here go into bat for their members it flows on to all nurses if they belong or not (this can be irritating having paid your dues for years but they dont and still reap the rewards)

    Anyway our federations (unions) in particular fight about not just wages but conditions ie safe manual handling, safe chemical use, safe mangement of needlesticks for just 3 basics, they also are proactive about the care for the resident and the patient in the system -
    Me - unions yes they do a lot of good here - power to them
  2. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    I was really looking forward to some dissenting views about union membership. There is a greater number, it would seem, of nurses that oppose unions than those that see them as a solution to the failure of nursing as a profession to thrive.

    Soooooooo, there must be some very good reasons why some nurses would oppose them because they look like a solution,or at least progress,in the power struggle to become a profession.

    I'm not looking for everybody to be flaming eachother back and forth, just looking forward to seeing an oppinion form a different viewpoint that would let me see where these nurses that oppose them are coming from.

    Poor leadership of a union would be a reason for it to be dysfunctional,but you would know that going in if you did your homework, so whose fault would that be?

    If a union failed to gain enough members to be a voice then who failed to give it a voice? Wouldn't that responsibility fall on the membership?

    There must be some valid reasons why there isn't one national union. There must be some points here that I'm not seeing from inexperience, because you would think by now that a few unions would stand out as having leadership and a good track record and use that to go national.

    It would seem that contract power is what nurses need.

    So, why not?
  3. by   -jt
    there IS one national RN union for direct-care (staff) nurses- the United American Nurses/AFL-CIO and it's brand new, having just received its AFL-CIO charter last June. Its the largest RN union in the country - approx. 120,000 staff RNs across the country so far.

    As far as the perception that there are more nurses against unionization than there are for it, I dont know if we can say that.
    We have more nurses in this country who are not unionized than those who are . If somone isnt unionized, does it necessarily mean they are against it? Some were for unionizing & have tried to unionize but have been prevented.

    I think nurses ideas on the subject vary depending on the region and location. Most nurses in the country as a whole are not unionized but practically 99.99999% of the direct-care nurses in my city are unionized. Every one of the healthcare facilities in my borough - including visiting nurses - is unionized. My state nurses assoc consists of about 98% unionized direct-care nurses.

    In talking to nurses from other parts of the country, some of the reasons Ive heard for why they are against unionizing are:

    1. "my grandfather was a factory worker & his union never did anything for him"

    2. "Im from the South & we dont believe in the "U" word"

    3. "Nurses are PROFESSIONALS - not blue collar workers"

    4. "I dont want to pay dues"

    5. "I dont have to join the union - whatever the nurses union at my hospital gets for the nurses who belong to it, those there who arent members will get the same anyway - so why should I join & pay dues if I can get their same benefit - for free?

    6. "I can speak for myself"

    7. "My father was in a union & once had a strike. His company closed down becaause of it & he lost his job. I dont believe in striking"

    8. "all a union does is fill the pockets of its corrupt leaders and find ways to keep our dead wood from being fired".

    9. "Im afraid of retaliation from my employer - or termination - if I try to unionize. Read 'Confessions of a Unionbuster'. No way am I willing to go thru all the harrassment thats described there."

    10. "right-to-work states have employment laws that favor the employers, try to tie the unions hands in many things, and make the unions in these states weak. We want to unionize but its damn near impossible in this state".

    Of all of these excuses, I can understand #9 - but there is a way to deal with even that problem. The only valid reason I can see on this list for why nurses have would have trouble unionizing is #10. Some of the rest are simply misconceptions that the nurses believe to be fact - either form lack of knowledge or someones trade union experience.

    Who knows why they are putting up with the horrendous workplace conditions & complaining or talking to management about it forever - rather than coming together as a force & collectively taking some control over the situation at their facility? Beats me.
    Last edit by -jt on Jun 22, '02
  4. by   Crawsu
    Apathy? Maybe, or maybe they are just so tired by the time the weekend rolls around, they don't want to think about it.
    The only voice we will ever have with management will be through a union. Do nurses actually believe that the hospitals don't have lobbyists to push their agendas?
    And the one thing we DO have going for us is that they CAN"T
    move the hospital to Mexico or Taiwan.
    The idea that we are professionals and shouldn't need a union is ludicrous. As long as we are not organized, we will continue to be taken advantage of.
  5. by   -jt
    I totally agree.

    In my state, the hospitals assoc & others have lobbyists working for them to chip away at our Nurse Practice Act & remove some RN responsibilities to give them to other workers (pharmacists, aides, & new categories of technicians). The excuse - theres a nursing shortage at the bedside so we need other workers to provide the care. What a surprise that this would be the solution, huh? Nurses who think they dont have to get political nowadays have their heads in the sand - because if they arent talking to the politicians about nursing, you can be sure some non-nurses are. How dare these big-money other groups try to decide what the state NURSING Practice Act will be. But its a real possibility that non-nurses could actually change the law that governs nurses in this state - IF nurses themselves arent in there to stop it. So who do you think is up in Albany fighting tooth & nail against these new bills in the state legislature? Our RN-only state nurses assoc, its members, & unionized staff RNs.

    If nothing else, something like this is reason enough to get involved locally & at least become a member of your state nurses assoc to help protect your own homefront.
    Last edit by -jt on Jun 22, '02
  6. by   Crawsu
    So true!
    I went in to work today and had only me and one other RN. WOW! They just don't listen!
    We had 2 techs and a secretary, but no one to do the real work of nursing.
    This is why there is a nursing shortage!!!
    The nurses are fed up and have LEFT!!
    Look at the stats...PRACTICING nurses vs. nurses that have left the profession. They are still licensed, but not practicing. I could go on and on about how much the conditions where I work s**k, but it's the same old story, isn't it?
    New memo today, "The charge nurse will be responsible for any orders not taken off. If this means the charge nurse has to take off all the orders, "so be it". ACTUAL MEMO!!!
    They are happy to give us techs etc. and we can train them to take off orders etc, , BUT, "THE CHARGE NURSE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE" That's the catch. It's your license, your livelihood, your house,car, whatever on the line. Sorry to sound so negative, but that is how I feel today after dealing with short staffing once again. If I'm going to be held responsible for someone else, I would like to know that they have at least been able to pass the state boards,and have had more than 6 mos. of medical education.
  7. by   OC_An Khe
    Peeps have thought long and hard over your request for reasons not to form a Union. I have worked as staff in both union and non-union envronments and have been a manager also. I honestly can say that Unions only come about because of mistreatment and exploitation of employees. The only reson then not to have a union is if your employer treats you as a professional and compensates you according to your responsibilities. Of course without an employment contract that can change at the will of the employer. A Union is a tool that can not only assist you in getting improvements but can also prevent things frombeing aken away from you.
    That brings me to -jt last post. There is an old Union leaders saying "what is won at the bargaining table can be taken away at the legislature". Political activism is a must if we are to maintain our professional status as there are powerful forces at work that want to push nursing back to the days before Florence.
    If you look at the history of nursing you will find a common thread in dealing with all shortages and that was an attempt to dummy down the profession by lowering its standards.
  8. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    9. "Im afraid of retaliation from my employer - or termination - if I try to unionize. Read 'Confessions of a Unionbuster'. No way am I willing to go thru all the harrassment thats described there."
    I think that this is at the heart of the dissenters reasons, although they might not be willing to admit it. People just want to go to work, have a stable paycheck and believe they are valued.

    Since they are already willing to terrorize nurses that have no unionizing on their agenda, I can imagine how dirty they can get to try and prevent them.

    Poor suits..........they must be terrified!

    Good point. The hospital would try to sell that "let's work it out together" crap when they have their own outside source.

    The only reason to not have a union is contentment. That's true, but is it true contentment or just a symptom of #9 from JT's post?

    I think that the reasons that JT posted lead contentment to be used as an excuse.

    We're all just waiting for the other shoe to drop.


    Excellent posts as usual, very informative.
    Something that I was thinking about...................What happens to the LPN's? If the union is RN only what prevents an employer from avoiding a union by hiring only LPN's? What protects LPN's jobs if a union succedes in representation?

    All very interesting.
  9. by   Jenny P
    Good discussion, here!
    Peeps, my state nursing association does have a few LPN's and Pharmacists as memebers of some smaller hospitals unions. They are not allowed full privledges as the RN's but are covered by the contract. I'm not sure how this is done, I just know that it can happen and we do have some as members.

    Ocankhe, you are so right: unions are not needed if there is a good, respectful relationship between the management and employees.

    Kewl, weak unions are caused by non-active members. If all of the union members are not willing to go to bat each and every time that management starts a confrontation, then you will not have the voice you need. Another thing to consider is that if your whole hospital staff of employees is represented by 1 union, the possibility of the nurses needs and demands being diluted increase. I have even heard of one hospital where the housekeeping, dietary, maintenance and laundry departments were all in collusion to keep the nurses' salaries down! Talk about a disfunctional union!
  10. by   -jt
    good questions Peeps. There are laws that hospitals have to follow - they must have RNs on staff. They cannot get rid of all the RNs & hire only LPNs just to avoid a union. Besides, that would be against federal labor law, but even if they could do it, they wouldnt stop a unionizing campaign because the LPNs too could unionize with any healthcare workers union they want. Then what? Stop hiring LPNs as well as RNs?

    It is a workers federal right to choose to have union representation at work, so if the hospital fired RNs to avoid a union, it would be in trouble for breaking federal law.

    In most of the facilities in my city, the state nurses assoc represents the RNs while another strong union represents all the other employees - including the LPNs. The security guards are represented by a different union, as are the tradesmen & engineers. So each hospital is dealing with a variety of different unions - theyre used to it. I have never heard of any facility where only the RNs were unionized & the rest of the employees were not.

    The fact that the RNs have chosen an RN-only union does not prevent other categories of workers from also unionizing with whatever union they choose. It also does not mean that other workers will lose jobs to RNs. The RNs union doesnt go after other workers jobs. In the facility, it concerns itself only with the RNs workplace, economic, & professional issues & the other workers union addresses theirs.

    Our contracts have "No Conversion" language which forbids the hospital from eliminating RN positions & replacing them with LPNs or other categories. That would be Erosion of the union bargaining unit by the hospital & is a violation. RNs cannot be laid off & replaced by other employees. Like-wise for the LPNs with their contract.

    Without a union contract, the hospital can do whatever it wants & nobodys job is protected.
    Last edit by -jt on Jun 22, '02
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    Found this previous thread re pros and cons of unions...though it might interest you.

  12. by   NRSKarenRN
    I have never heard of any facility where only the RNs were unionized & the rest of the employees were not.
    JT, that may be true of NY, but not the rest of the country. My local hospital, Fitzgerald Mercy, flagship hospital of health system was organized by PSNAP about 6 years ago after several changes in administration that ignored staffing and safety issues--only union at the facility. I think PASNAP has two other hospitals: Notheastern and Butler Memorial that nurses are the only union inplace. (Someone correct me if wrong).

    Other sevice employees attempted organization with 1199C and reported hardball tatics used with not enough yes votes (unfair labor charges logged with labor board, hospital letter sent wont happen again-administrator canned less than 1 yr later). The administration has changed two or three times since and appears to have stabilized as a new CEO taken over two years ago that appears to be listening.

    Hard feelings don't change overnight and is happening with hospitals all over, area demographics have changed--mostly working class neighborhood, HIGH Medicare and manage care population. Upper class moved further away (able to pay cash for luxary care/surgery), shringing reimbursement with 2 million uncompensated free care provided. Closed pediatrics (4 peds hospitals in 30 min drive) and just closed Maternity at sister hospital 2 days ago. Their maternity clinic changed to private status( due to skyrocketing malpractice) and change in docs--15 have left for other states. So many changes to deal with... union helping, they feel, to maintain bottomline safe practice and patient care.
  13. by   Tookie
    I am in favour of being in a union see previous comment -

    however l acknowledge that l beleive we have a good system that works - l use the word strongly there - WORKS for nurses -

    Interestingly this week the 'news' is discussing a claim amongst another union within our country - l cannot post the link(havnt figured out how to do this)

    A claim has gone to the courts that anyone who is not in this specific union will then have to pay a fee to the union if that union then wins a payrise for its workers. (this will probably flow onto the other uniosn within our country)

    what l am tryng to say here is that is you are not a union member you will have to pay a fee if the union negoiates a payrise or better condtions etc if you are NOT a member

    To me this is really important as too many people can ride on other peoples backs getting the benifts withour paying the fees.
    hope this makes sense- l am not sure if this helpsinthe discussion or just throws in a red herring

    Posibly a modeerator will know how to post this information if they feel it is relevant