I am in my first contract with my facility; I came to negotiations, and engaged passionately for myself, people who were fearful, yet saw the newbie (that's me) join because there was a serious and sadistic power struggle where the management of my unit were pitting day shift and night shift, as well as other nurses against each other; people were favorites and were protected, while others were made out of examples; watching the staff almost engaged in an abusive relationship was enough for me, including the vague policies and procedures basically tip in management's favor.
I was a target for management-they wrote me up and basically issued me on a final warning for their scheduling error, which, the new management (which was implemented because my previous director was fired) overturned.
My efforts at the bargaining table had me nominate and win Grievance Chair.
I have represented people who were written up that violated just cause; one was solely based on a laboratory error, not the nurses fault; another was the lack of discipline and that manager not notifying the member that she violating policy and procedure-thought it was more of a personality issues and manager did not do either due diligence in being a leader and having meetings about her behavior in a strutted manner or progressive plan of action.
The most recent are people being flexed because they signed up for overtime but do not meet their overtime mark-which is a GROSS violation of Federal Labor Laws, which we-the nurses who are unionized-WON.
Any issues that arise and are not resolved have been recorded by myself and will present at the bargaining table; we have a short term contract that has salary grids, floating stipulations, just cause clause, the the agreement to staffing grids.
A union is a strong as their members; we still have some ironing out to do, be even the small changes-we we're WAY under the market and had so many loopholes-I precepted individuals and couldn't be compensated because I wasn't the main preceptor-they were given the full bonus if they stayed past six months and got another one when that employee hit a year; now anyone who precepts an individual gets preceptor pay-plus a cost of living increase and percentage for having a clinical ladder, along with representation, and forcing management that have NO idea or simply forgot how challenging and evolved healthcare is to be accountable and not violate the law is a good reason to have a union.
The is this thinking that because we are professionals that we should'nt have a union. My adage is this: it is NOT professional to take an assignment that I am not qualified to take or work with faulty equipment or take an unsafe load of patients.
Unions are needed because of the importance of safe competent care that we want to deliver to our patients so we have better outcomes; even in our work-life balance as well-it also shows one of our aspects in nursing that I immensely enjoy-advocacy in action.