Published Jul 21, 2000
GREETINGS EVERYONE,THE NURSES AT OUR HOSPITAL ARE GATHERING SIGNITURES FOR A UNION VOTE.THEY ARE FED UP WITH NOT HAVING ANY SAY IN HOSPITAL POLICY.ANOTHER LOCAL HOSPITAL IN PORTLAND MAINE RECENTLY WAS IN THE NEWS,THEY ARE VOTING ON A UNION THIS FALL.PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON UNION OR NOT. I HAVE BEEN APPROACHED TO SIGN, SPITFFIRE
The up side is that we get our raises whether or not the facility claims they made money this year. There is no "our profit margin won't support a raise for you this year." excuse. The facilities and employees are locked into a conract and that can be useful if you have a grievance.
There are down sides to being locked into a contract. If you feel that something done is not right or unfair and the facility states that its in the contract that they can do something, and the contract states they can there is nothing you can do about it. For instance our contract states that you can be made to work whatever shift they need you on. Our hospital tries to put you on a shift that will work for your life but I have seen new employees get pushed around alot,also employees with alot of experience sometimes get this to as the hospital uses the excuse that they need to use some more seasoned nurses on a certain shift or weekend.
If you get real sick or need to have surgery, they can't just fire you they need just cause that is written up in the contract.
In our contract they cannot use mandatory OT or force you in on your day off. The ability to negotiate this into a contract is a great reason for a union at this time in nursing. This is a big issue right now.
Another con is that is you don't have representation who is willing to fight for your rights, then the best contract in the world means nothing. I have seen this before.
Unions are only as good as the people in them. These people must be willing to stick together on the really important issues. If, lets say, you join a union but never attend meetings or get involved then you really can't expect the issues you think are important will get the attention they deserve. You need to attend, put some time into it and be vocal about the really important issues.
thanks for your reply,does anyone else have any thoughts on unionizing? i thought this would be a hot topic....spitfire.
bunky, BSN, RN
Spitfire, if I had the chance to be a union member here I'd do it in a second. Being in a union creates greater job security, and ensures a more fair work environment based more on the seniority versus popularity of the individual. Where I am, laying off senior staff is a money saver because they get rid of the people who have maxed out salary wise and bring in new grads who they can pay a lot less. It also helps to create a safer working enviro, with guidelines clearly defined as to what constitutes safe staffing.
Look at how things were before union talk began, and look at what the union is proposing. Your hospital may be making promises to you at this time designed to sway your vote toward non-union, but take a look at how it's treated it's employees in the past to get an idea of how you can expect things to go if the union isn't voted in. And then ask yourself why so many big business's go to such great lengths to avoid employee unionization.
Here in Canada all nurses belong to a provincial union. It has it's upsides and down sides. Having a union gives nurses a lot more power to negociate. We have had a few nurses strikes in the past few years in Quebec, Alberta and BC. The public supported them and they got a better contract. One problem though is that often nurses are given positions because of seniority alone (Not the best nurse for the job necessarily). Another good thing for nurses here in my city is this month some nurses were scheduled for vacation time (that had been approved by management) but management didn't have enough nurses to run the hospital. Because the contract says that nurses can't be forced to change their vacation time, the nurses that choose to come in get double the pay they normally do. I think the big thing about unions is that they stop bosses from pushing around their employees.
Genista, BSN, RN
I'm another pro-union voter. Though, as the previous post said, a union is only as strong as the members. Members need to take an active role for the union to be strong. I belong to a nurses union @ my current job.One of the main reasons that I applied for my current position @ this hospital is because it is union.The nursing union presence is evident in the better working conditions.Staff turnover is low. However, my last job was nonunion- and working conditions were horrible! We didn't EVER get lunch breaks in our 8 hr shift (never enough staff to cover you & nobody cared).It gets old not having breaks- you can only feel like a martyr for so long, then you just feel abused. Pay was so-so, morale low, turnover high. Staff meetings @ the nonunion job were one sided. If we had tons of patient admissions to the floor, yet only minimal staff, all we heard was, "Do the best you can!" and they shipped them right up! I began to look for employment elsewhere after a year of working in the negative/ nonunion/nonnursing environment. At my current job (union)-the staffing ratios tend to stay within a set range, wages are competative (education/experience gets higher wage as incentive), lunch breaks are scheduled as matter of fact (rarely does one miss a break- the supervisor will cover you if you need help), you can file a grievance if you feel you are given an unsafe assignment. No, it's not perfect, but with the union, at least I can have a voice & input, and a basically safe/reasonable working environment. Good luck to you & the (potential) new union members!Hope you find some solutions.
I agree with most of the previous posts. Unions must still have some bite in them. Why would physicians be interested in starting one?
Our hospital is union. Recently admin decided that they were going to require everyone to pick up an extra shift per pay period. The union stepped in and told them uh-uh, no way.
If unions were not in some way effective for its members why are hospital adminstrations and management against them? Because it seems to help to level out the playing field. If we had the upper hand, the power, the control would we want a union to interfere with that?
I like the comment of one writer re hysicians are getting unions. If a state ever needed a union and all nurses to unite it is Florida. Of course since this state has no rights for employees much less nurses who are keeping patients alive for the physicians - we need a union with the experience to manage the state corporate/private owned hospitals-not a food service union as in Lakeland Fl. The issues are generally the same - mandatory overtime -lack of professional conduct of corporate hired managers (who by the way are only interested in their own paycheck by firing any nurse who questions patient care, safety, etc (nurse practice act) standards. Of course they condone the yes people if they are from foreign lands - even to the extent of sleeping on the job, which according to that hosp handbook is immediate termination. She's still there I'm not and all the inexperienced personnel licensed and technical who do not receive appropriate training/orientation and the more experienced staff have to take the abuse of the doctors who ask why they aren't provided trained personnel. of course when they complain to the manager it is translated to your file as your fault - even though the manager hired and promised to train/orient the new tech/RN that caused the complaint in the first place. If anyone has a better idea of how to deal with this kind of treatment without some kind of collaborative group - please let me know.
My Fellow Nurses: I have a renewed sense of faith when I read the comments on this issue! I "attempted" to start a union in Phoenix 3 years ago--I was fired for "solicitation" Of course, I took them to court and won my back pay and benefits BUT we all lost! When administration makes the decision to "fire" nurses--we get scared! We don't realize our own worth--even with the shortage--how are they going to replace us?? They CAN'T fire all of us! I am a single Mom--have been for a long time--BUT I believed so firmly in nursing having the right to negotiate their own contract that I paid the ultimate price--AND I would do it again!! All of you nurses out there--don't give up--FIGHT BACK! And most of all, stick together. This is our time now if we embrace the moment. Unions are only as strong as its members--if you have a union--go to meetings, voice your opinion and be heard--the union is your voice. Exercise it and remember, there are those of us who would love to "level out the playing field". Good Luck to you all!
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