would you cross a picket line???? - page 3

Yesterday one of my nursing coworkers told me about some strike in OHIO and that she was going to take a travel assignment to that area..... I am totally happy where I am, but I was kinda wondering... Read More

  1. by   adrienurse
    Okay, so it's pretty evident that I do not share the political views as some of you. YOu can say what you want, and call me what you will, but I will give my point of view.

    Put down that bucket of tar and those feathers and hear me out.

    No I have never picketed before. Truth be told, I was in highschool the last time my union went on strike. I have however been through 2 different strike votes and my union just about went on strike last April (was settled at the 11th hour before job action was taken).

    Being the sensible person that I think I am, I do not think to strike or not to strike is a decision to be taken lightly. Please remember that both sides of the arguement should be taken into account. There are facts that need to be considered.
    FACT: Not all people can afford to be off work for a month or two. Some people have debts, some people have student loans to pay.
    FACT: Public opinion is very fickle. The last time my union went on strike, it took 8 years for public opinion to change from outright loathing of nurses to the alltime high that it is presently at. Nursing needs the public to be on its side in order for conditions to improve. We are providing a service to them afterall.

    FACT: Never underestimate the power of propaganda. Certain right wing bent media groups do not necessarily promote reporting the fact. Sometimes information from unions cannot be taken for face value as well. I believe in unionism in its pure form, but lets face it, unions and corruption are not strangers. Some people are out for justice and some people are out for power. Ditto, to propaganda being released by employers on what the issues are. Do your own research on that the facts being disputed between employers and union actually are.
    FACT: Strike is bad for nursing students. It really makes it a problem for students to do their clinicals if the nurses are out picketing. We need these student to graduate and get into the workforce.
  2. by   LasVegasRN
    Thanks for providing another point of view, Adrienurse. The point of this being a forum for open discussion should not include name calling or flaming just because one offers different views.
  3. by   fedupnurse
    I too have been to the 11th hour and then some. There was not one single solitary nurse during our 98 day strike who could not get Agency work. Not one could claim financial reasons or lack of work and, again, that was not during a time of a shortage back in 1993.
    I live in a very corporate type area. Business executives would approach me in my hometown and offer their heartfelt support (we were out from December 2 to March 12) and their disdain for what the hospital execs were doing. The hospital had placed the large local newspaper on the Board of the hospital and we couldn't even get editorials in the paper let alone an actual article detailing what the real issue was. The vast majority of the public supported us.
    If we had caved and gone in without a contract or let our union get decertified, we would now be floated to whatever floor in whatever of the 3 hospitals our suits wished. Do not think for a minute that we would be cross trained or oriented to the other floors and facilities. That was the whole reason for the strike. The nurses at the non union sister hospitals in our health system have ridiculously subjective evaluation tools (do you smile enough is one of the indicators on the tool) and also are forced to use scripts. Their schedules are changed with little notice. If the state didn't ban mandatory OT they'd be doing that too.
    In other words the conditions would be even more unsafe than they are now.
    There were quite a few people who crossed the picket line and quite a few new hires that crossed and stole other peoples jobs. Very few of those people are left. Those of us that were out never let a patient of a scab sink but we also never included these people into the fold. I'm not saying clique, I'm saying that solid circle of friends that ebcame stronger while we were out sliding on a picket line in a really horrible winter.
    If people are not willing to strike they should not work in a unionized environment. I don't know of a single nurse who would refuse all of the perks we have via our contract. We have that contratc because we were willing to put our jobs on the line to stand up for what we believed was right. Hospital executives care only about the bottom line, not about quality care.
    If you are faced with the choice again, weigh your options very seriously. If you do cross, you will not have friends who stayed out. Your work life will not ever be the same in that facility again. Better yet, find a non union hospital and take what you can get from those suits. Then you may just be willing to freeze your @$$ off like myself and 600 of my colleagues did 9 years ago.
  4. by   fab4fan
    As others have said, there is always agency work. As far as nursing students, if the work env. is bad enough for exp. nurses to walk, then it must be terrible for students. Do we want to send them the message this early into their professional lives that we should sacrifice/put up with unsafe conditions for the sake of others? We need to work in optimal conditions; they need to LEARN in no less an environment.

    We're not being pt advocates, advocates for ourselves & peers, and students, if we send the message that mgmt. can abuse us without letup.

    As for as public opinion, well, go on some of the public forums like forums.delphi, and you'll see what a lot of lay people think we're worth.

    I would never take action against someone who crossed a line, but it angers me that those who do wind up benefitting from the sacrifices of those who stand up and say, "Enough!"
  5. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    All joking aside Adrienurse,

    Wouldn't you rather stand beside these nurses and be counted among thier numbers? What excellent company to be in!
    Rather than make a few extra bucks doing something you will despise yourself for later, think about the longterm reward of saying you are one of these nurses and the impact you could have on the entire profession just for upholding what is right.

    Unions don't have all the answers, but they are quite a bit better than the suits.
  6. by   adrienurse
    Now that i've said my piece, thank you. By the way, I never said that I wouldn't picket. I was just playing Devil's advocate.
  7. by   fergus51
    If all hospitals in an area are going on strike, they can still maintain essential services level of staffing, which is what we have to do in the even of any job action. All nurses in our province are in the same union, so there are no strikebreakers to take over for patient care. You would be surprised at how hospitals slow down when we stopped doing OT last year and elective surgeries were being cancelled left and right. It got the point across but no one died for it.
  8. by   slinkeecat
    thankyou to all that have replied to this thread.... I appreciate your honesty and diversified opinions.... I still feel that I personally could not cross that line..... thank you for your humor and candor..... you all ROCK!!!!
  9. by   -jt
    <What if nearly every hospital was virtually closed down in a wide expanse around your area? If the situation became that serious, would you cross a picket line?>

    First of all, the hospitals will not take that risk. They will only say they will to scare the community & use that threat to pressure the RNs to back down. They'll use this hoping to play on the nurses fear, guilt & feelings of responsibility but how responsible, ethical, or professional is it to knowingly leave your pts in unsafe conditions & do nothing to fixing it?

    The hospitals will only take this threat down to the wire - trying to get the RNs to blink first - but if the RNs call their bluff & stand strong, no way are all the hospitals in the whole city going to shut down. The same situation just occurred last year in Minneapolis, MN. RNs at 13 hospitals there were going to strike at once with the Minnesota Nurses Assoc/UAN. Some hospitals came back & worked it out with the nurses before the strike - some were willing to first see how many strikeBreakers they could lure in with the dangling golden carrot $$$. The facilities that could get enough of them played hardball & went with the strike. Those who couldnt get enough strikeBreakers came back to the table to work out the staff RNs issues & they didnt have the strike either.

    Even if the hospitals were stupid enough to shut down the whole citys healthcare, then I still wouldnt cross the strike line. If no one crossed the line, it would be a very short strike because the hospitals would be begging for another opportunity to settle with the nurses & get to the business of making money. Thats the only leverage the RNs have to work with.

    Think about it. Are the hospitals REALLY going to let healthcare in a whole city shut down just to avoid providing safe staffing practices & other workplace improvements for the nurses? Never happen. What kind of PR spins, no matter how great, are going to justify that to the community? If the hospitals were doing this, they would have no public support for putting the citys population at risk. The public outcry alone would force them to get back to the table to negotiate fairly & avoid the strike. If they came back to the table in earnst, the RNs would postpone the strike & work to an agreement.

    Remember Minneapolis last year ---- (look it up here under Minnesota nurses strike)

    As they saw the staff RNs meant business & were not going to accept an unacceptable contract that didnt meet their staffing needs & really were going to strike all these hospitals at once if the hospitals forced them to, one by one the hospitals ran back to the table to come to agreements that the nurses could accept & call off the strike before it happened. The night before the strike, when one hospital that refused to come back found out that they were 98 strikeBreakers short for the day shift (when the strike was starting at 5:30AM), it suddenly agreed to return to the table and lo & behold did indeed offer a contract that met most of the RNs needs. And the strike didnt happen there either.

    A couple of hospitals that were able to find enough strikeBreakers went thru with the strike & paid dearly - only to end up a few weeks later agreeing to the same things the other hospitals had agreed to weeks earlier - without the strikeBreaking costs that these fools chose to spend taxpayer money on.

    Rember NYC --- 1966 --- when nurses at ALL the citys public hospitals were going to go on strike at once. They brought the city government to a standstill. Was the city going to just shut down public healthcare & be responsible for all the consequences to the public after that, or was it going to spend some money to meet the nurses needs in the workplace? There were no such thing as RN strikeBreakers in those days & the city HAD to pay attention. The strike was averted at the last minute when the city agreed to the nurses issues.

    It was a crisis in NYC but the RNs victory reached clear across the country. That event was not only national news but raised the bar & established nationwide standards for nurses that nurses from coast to coast enjoy today. StrikeBreaking RNs who help bring down RNs who are fighting for improvements in reality are self-defeating.

    Nothing we have was just given to us out of nowhere. Everything we have came from organized nurses fighting for it.

    see: City In Crisis - 1966
  10. by   -jt
    I think this is a good website for nurses & others because most people here, unlike other places, dont slam each other for different opinions. Theres a lot of discussion, points of view, & educating going on here. Its a good thing to be able to see what others are thinking, their perspectives, & where that comes from. And also to be able to explain your rationale for your own perspectives without thinking youll be attacked for them. Theres a good group of people on this website - no matter what their personal beliefs are. With that, Id like to respond to those facts listed above:

    <<FACT: Not all people can afford to be off work for a month or two. Some people have debts, some people have student loans to pay.>>

    To be on strike does not mean to be out of work and without pay.
    It means only that you do not work at the facility where the nurses are on strike. In my experience, striking nurses who wanted to work all found as much work as they wanted. They also found that there was more than just working at the hosptial. The whole region knows the RNs are on strike & they receive offers from employers far & wide for temp work. In the last strike in NY (on Long Island), nurses traveled together to the Bronx, to Manhattan, to other towns on Long Island, to other facilities in their own town. Some even worked per diem in schools, the airport, Macys, and Merrill Lynch (every institution & company has an employee health office). Some nurses found temp work in their specialities at other facilities. Some chose to branch out to other avenues. Some ICU RNs chose to work home care. Some RNs chose to work per diem in nursing homes. Recruiters came running to the strike line to sign them up before they found other work first. Email came in to the union offices from employers all over the place offering temp jobs to the striking nurses for the duration. Members of our union who are nurse recruiters at other facilities in NYC, on Long Island & around our state made offers to put these nurses to work at their facilities during the strike - even in Upstate NY.

    There is also a "protected action strike fund" made up of donations from other nurses & community members - donations that helped some nurses who had an immediate need - like a mortgage payment that couldnt wait. Additionally, when you contact your credit cards, banks, & utility companies & tell them you are on strike, they work out a reduced payment plan with you for your bills until after the strike is over. The fact is the striking nurses had a ton of options to choose from & no one went without paying the bills or putting food on the table. Maybe the commute was longer. Maybe the was an initial fear of going to a new place or working in a new field or area but nobody who wanted to work couldnt find work - many many times at even better salaries because agency pays better than these staff RNs were earning in their full times jobs. Some facilities signed up several nurses at once & they commuted together & worked together in the new place. The employers were happy to have the striking nurses even for the short term & were accomodating.

    FACT: Public opinion is very fickle. The last time my union went on strike, it took 8 years for public opinion to change from outright loathing of nurses to the alltime high that it is presently at. Nursing needs the public to be on its side in order for conditions to improve. We are providing a service to them afterall.

    True - thats why striking nurses educate & involve the community in the causes that drove them to strike & what they are reaching for. The public is at risk when workplace conditions are unsafe & when they are made to understand that this is what the fight is all about, they are 100% behind the nurses who are fighting for

    FACT: Never underestimate the power of propaganda.

    Underscores the reason why everyone needs to be involved, knowledgeable, active in the effort & innocualted against the usual strikebusting tactics. The propaganda the hospital put out at the strike on Long Island turned into a joke because at the weekly RN union meeting, they discussed each tactic the hospital might try, each line of BS that it would throw, & expected them. They had a list of what piece of propaganda would probably come next & invariably there it was a few days later - usually in a newsletter from the CEO. Instead of succumbing to it, the nurses laughed about it as they crossed it off their list.

    FACT: Strike is bad for nursing students. It really makes it a problem for students to do their clinicals if the nurses are out picketing. We need these student to graduate and get into the workforce.

    On the contrary, the nursing students at this hospital were in full support of the strike. Their instructors would not cross the strike line either & made arrangements for the students to take clinical elswhere. Maybe a little inconvenient but they all were up to the challenge. They understood that the fight was to make the workplace better for them too and if we dont, how long are these students going to stay in the workforce anyway?? Participating in this strike was a wonderful education for them. They were awesome in their energy & determination to stand up for nurses and pts & as RNs are going to be great advocates & activists for both. No doormats here! With smart, savvy, nurse activist students like these, we can have hope for the future.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 6, '02
  11. by   Furball

    All I have to add to your wonderful arguments supporting a legitimate strike is....WOW, awesome post!
  12. by   fedupnurse
    But what is the six figures in relation to the cost of living in the vast majority of the state? I live about 50 miles from NYC and Philly. The county where I live and work is one of the most expensive in the state. The suits advertise how well paid we are yet I'd have to go to a very bad neighborhood to be able to afford a house and it would be a small house at that. Rents are also sky high. So when we get 4% in a merrit pay raise that doesn't even cover cost of living or inflation for that matter. Besides the money issue there is the even more important issue of patient care conditions. I wouldn't want my family members or friends in any hospital in my area. NONE!! None of the facilities in my area staff appropriately yet all have executives making high six and seven figure salaries.
    Also, we must keep in mind, the suits are the ones who 99% of the time, force the strike issue. No union wants a strike for its members! It is the suits being penny wise and pound foolish who draw the line in the sand. They are responsible for the safe staffing of their facilities and to remedy the situation if they cannot. They are required to do this by the Joint Commission and fail to comply on a regular basis in my area.
    JT hit the nail on the head. Couldn't agree with JT more. When the newspaper wouldn't print our side of the story we went to town council meetings, the Board of the hospitals business', told everyone we could find abotu what was really going on. Solidarity is what stops strikes in their tracks. One of my colleagues decided to go in and talk to the hospital president and told him she could bring the entire ICU back in. She set back our cause by at least 2 months. He saw that we were shaky and he decided to continue rather than settle the strike. It took the commissioner of labor to stop the strike by threatening the suits with loss of certifications. Then they sat down and talk to us. We had a contract within 24 hours. To this day that colleague still insists she did nothing wrong and refuses to accept the fact that her actions kept 600+ of us out in the cold for way longer than we would have been. Again, it gets back to solidarity!!
  13. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    averaging 19 percent to 25 percent, and hourly wages as high as $47.
    Spread out over how many years with what kind of conditions?

    who gets 19% and who gets 25%? Is the $47 number for someone working PRN or agency, Or can any nurse earn that with a regular 40 hour work week?(no such thing anyway)

    What kind of nurse draws 99 grand a year? There are different levels of nurses in different settings.

    It is not uncommon to my knowledge that a Nurse Practitioner(MSN level) can earn that much in some kind of practice management but I have never heard of a "floor nurse" earning this kind of cash.

    If You did the research BK,then you'll know the answers.

    Sounds good the way it was written and,but I've learned to be skeptical of "Trojan horses" disguised as good news.