union vs non union

Nurses Activism


I am an RN BSN working as a staff nurse in a non-union hospital. I am currently looking to change hospital as well as area of specialty. I am confused with the union deal...you see I don't like that I was turned down at the facility where I work for a position I was well qualified for because the nurse manager hired "New Graduates" for the internally posted positions! On that same note since I am not union I can never be mandated for OT (in NY madation is illegal UNLESS you are union then mandation is litigated by your contract). Since I am looking to start a family soonbeing in a position where I could be mandated at a whim is not a good idea. I know friends who are in the union and they are mandated at least two 8 hr shifts per month! If I had a child in daycare what would I do? Those involved with your stat professional unions please rsvp with any helpful information thank you

Where did you ever get that idea????? Oh boy are you in for a big surprise!!! In NY, & most other places, hospital administrators think mandatory OT is a free-for-all & it is being used as a "staffing alternative". There is no state law yet on restricting it so it is NOT illegal or restricted anywhere - UNLESS you are unionized & have it in your contract specifically stated that it is prohibited. Non-unionized nurses do not have those restrictions on the hospital so they are fair game & totally abused. Nurses are unionizing in record numbers & one of the big reasons is to stop the hospital from using mandatory OT. I dont know about other unions but The New York State Nurses Association does not agree to contracts that allow the hospital to mandate RNs unlimited - as hospitals can do to non-unionized RNs. The only way NY RNs put the brakes on mandatory OT is by unionizing, insisting on contracts that severely restrict or eliminate it, and by writing & introducing legislation in Albany that will outlaw it. (http://www.nysna.org/PROGRAMS/LEG/points/solutions.htm)

Non-union RNs have no such protection because they do not have contracts at all & there is no state law yet to cover them so the only ones NOT being mandated are the unionized RNs who fought for contract language that stop it. If you do not want to work mandatory OT, I suggest you find a job in a hospital that is unionized with the NYSNA (look them up on the Represented Facilities page at http://www.NYSNA.org), instead of a job where RNs are not unionized - and ask about the mandatory OT policy at your interview. If the hospital is unionized, ask to see the contract & read the clause that addresses it. That IS the mandatory OT policy.

On your other point, in-house personnel get first crack at open positions before they are advertized publicly. Thats usually the way it is in any field. If the job was still in the in-house posting period, how is it they even interviewed people from the outside for it? They should have waited till the in-house posting period was over (usually 10 days) & then interviewed the new grads for positions that were still available if they were from outside. You say you worked at that facility, so why werent you afforded the in-house courtesy of first priority at the job?

If a qualified in-house RN applied for the job during the in-house posting period, before it was opened up to the outside, she shouldnt have been stepped over for a position - especially not for new grads who didnt even work there. Unionized RNs have this in their contract so it is "law" at their facilities. Non-unionized RNs have no such deal. Either way, you forfeit your right to first crack at the job if you dont apply within that time period to utilize the first- priority option. If you did apply in time, they had no business hiring from the outside. If this was done in a unionized facility, the RN could file a grievance & take the job. In a non-unionized facility, the manager can do whatever she wants & you are just out of luck.

Theres a lot of info here about union/non-union. For more info just do a search.

Good luck to you.

The hospital that I work at is currently being approached by an RN union. It would be the first unionized hospital in Arizona.

I have discussed issues at length with both union representatives and hospital administrators, but both are providing very different information.

Can anyone please share their union experiences with me to help me better understand?

Originally posted by BBnurse34

The hospital that I work at is currently being approached by an RN union. It would be the first unionized hospital in Arizona.

I have discussed issues at length with both union representatives and hospital administrators, but both are providing very different information.

Can anyone please share their union experiences with me to help me better understand?

:) ok first and foremost....WHAT IS YOUR FACILITY DOINGING FOR YOU NOW??? If you think that they are not doing enough than what do you have to lose? I have been a union nurse for 4 years. I also work at a non-union hospital and we are currently organizing with the MNA (michigan nurses association) we have been cut so deeply that they (management) leave us no choice. Think of the union as an insurance policy.....the union is not a take over...it is more like having some say in what happens to you and your co-workers. Management will cont. to cut costs and increase work loads until we the nursing staff break!!!! Wouldn't you like some sort of voice during changes? Here is another important question to ask your self. " Do I feel satisfied that I gave ALL my patients today the best care they could have received?" and do you leave your shift satisfied that you did your best or do you go home wondering if you got all your work done? I say go for the union.....It is a tough road....but believe me it will be worth it in the long run.....one more thought....If your DON and managers had to work the floor today and for just one week, could they do your job? or would they say...."I'm not putting my license on the line?".....Think long and hard about the choices and GO UNION!!!!!!

I have been a nurse for 27 years. Worked union and non-union over the years. This last year the hospital I work in, the nurses voted for the union (CNA). I t was a long hard fight with millions of dollars spent by the hospital for an anti-union busting group to keep the union out. If the hospital had maybe listened to us and spent some of that money on nurses to begin with maybe we could have avoided all this. But in a profession where you aren't valued anymore for your knowledge or experience something has got to change. I feel it is our job as nurses to fix our profession, to help cure the 2 part nursing shortage, first to try and attrack the hight percent of nurses who don't work anymore, which means making working conditions better. California has going thru the state legislator right know a bill on staffing ratios. Second attracting young people to our profession, which means being competitive in the job market, which means better salaries, benefits and working conditions. Of all of my friends, nurses and non, none of our children are going to be nurses. The nurses and I at our hospital feel that we have taken the first step in becoming a voice for ourselves and the future of nursing by banding together with the California Nurses Association to improve our current working conditions and those of the future.

theres lots of info here about the issue. Just do a search on this site & youll have more than you can read in a day

Nurses in Missouri are currently waging a war to become recognized as a union. Their healtchare system, which holds about 35% of all healthcare in that city is fighting them tooth & nail - even stooping to illegal practices. It just got caught. The courts found it guilty of 140 violations against the nurses -including illegal coersion, intimidation, retaliation, and union-busting. This vindicates the nurses in that they are right in what they are doing to have a say in their employment & matters affecting their practice. The front page of the business section in the newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri was in booklet form, and the union, Nurses United's graphics covered the whole page. What a great visual.(a picture of a nurse with boxing gloves on)......

By RANDOLPH HEASTER - The Kansas City Star

Date: 08/13/01

Teresa Barnett remembers the first time nurses from Health Midwest met in

her Kansas City living room to discuss how they could improve their work


Frustrated by staffing shortages and cutbacks they believed were affecting

patient care, about 10 nurses from various Health Midwest entities gathered

in June 1999 and began contemplating a union.

"We didn't even want to use the word `union' because many of us thought it

had a bad connotation," said Barnett, a registered nurse at Menorah Medical

Center in Overland Park. "But we really believed we could make a difference

by having a legal voice in the workplace, and unionizing was the way to do


It's been more than two years since the seeds of the ambitious organizing

drive were planted. Amid setbacks and gains, Nurses United for Improved

Patient Care achieved a crucial victory two weeks ago.

An administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board's regional

office in Overland Park agreed that Health Midwest violated federal labor

laws during organizing activity at three hospitals and a home health agency.

The ruling, coming after a hearing last summer, covered about 130 charges of

unfair labor practices made by the NLRB.

Among the violations Judge George Aleman found:

Health Midwest and its facilities were too broad in defining where nurses

cannot distribute union literature and discuss the union with peers. Health

Midwest management had prohibited such activity in cafeterias and break

rooms and stopped pamphlets from being placed in employee mailboxes.

Mid-level managers who asked certain nurses about their feelings about the

union acted in a coercive and intimidating manner. Some managers also told

nurses that jobs and insurance contracts would be lost, facilities would be

closed and job flexibility would be eliminated if the union won.

Some Health Midwest employees were given disciplinary write-ups because of

their union activities.

Research Medical Center tried to form a management-dominated labor

organization to thwart Nurses United's campaign.

An April 2000 memo sent by a Health Midwest senior vice president to all

employees was an attempt to hinder an NLRB investigation into the election

results of a Health Midwest agency where the union lost.

Health Midwest has until Aug. 22 to appeal any of the findings to the NLRB

in Washington. A spokesman said the company would not comment on specific

incidents detailed in the ruling until a decision was made on whether to

appeal any of them.

When the NLRB ruling was issued, Health Midwest said it had tried to comply

with regulations and protect the rights of employees, the employer and the

union during the organizing campaign. The company consistently said it

believed direct communication with its employees without a third party was

the best way to go.

Health Midwest controls about 35 percent of the Kansas City area's

health-care market. Its hospitals include Research Medical Center, Baptist

Medical Center, Trinity Lutheran Hospital, Independence Regional Health

Center, Menorah Medical Center and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Nurses United is affiliated with the Federation of Nurses and Healthcare

Professionals, the health-care division of the American Federation of

Teachers. The federation represents about 60,000 nurses and other

health-care professionals across the country.

In the past two years, nurses have voted in favor of union representation at

the three Health Midwest hospitals: Lee's Summit Hospital, Menorah and most

recently, Medical Center of Independence. Although Nurses United lost a

March 2000 election at Visiting Nurses Association/Visiting Nurse Services,

a Health Midwest home health agency, Aleman ruled that another election must

be held because of management's actions before the election.

Although the outcome of the latest NLRB ruling is not final, it was

vindication for many nurses who had participated in the organizing campaign.

"It's a genuine victory for all the nurses," Barnett said. "For the nurses

who don't really understand what the union is about, this is a way for us to

show that we have a right to do what we're doing. For some nurses, this

ruling will be important in making a decision about whether they want the


The ruling was not a surprise for Rhoda Vanderhart, a registered nurse and

one of the union's negotiators at Menorah.

"We have found that throughout the organizing drive and at the negotiating

table, Health Midwest is pretty flagrant in their violations," Vanderhart

said. "They have had so much power for so long, they act like they don't

need to comply with the law."

Vanderhart said it was her impression that many of Health Midwest's senior

and mid-level managers had little expertise in union matters.

"Nurses have been organizing for years on the coasts, but it's still pretty

new in the Midwest," she said. "I think that's been a detriment and a big

problem for Health Midwest to understand what's going on here."

Some of the most contentious incidents described in the judge's ruling and

the transcripts of last summer's hearing occurred during the unsuccessful

organizing drive at the Visiting Nurse Association/Visiting Nurse Services.

Rich Roberson, chief executive officer of VNA/VNS, was questioned at last

summer's hearing about a Jan. 19, 2000, incident in which a group of nurses

came to his office and requested that Nurses United be recognized as their

bargaining agent.

"I remember the word `recognition,' but I couldn't tell you any more today

the exact words or anything close to the exact words that were said at the

time," Roberson told the NLRB's general counsel. "It was so disruptive and

so against everything that I had seen our nurses do, to barge into my office

unannounced, my secretary almost in tears...so I really can't tell you what

much was said."

Deanna Jones, a VNA nurse who read the statement seeking union recognition

in Roberson's office, received a disciplinary write-up a week later. It was

for work-related messages she had sent to co-workers and managers the

previous month.

The NLRB judge ruled that Jones' write-up violated labor laws because it was

in retaliation for her union activity. The judge ordered another election at


"Hopefully this decision will help to alleviate fears that nurses have had

about showing support for our union," said Kathleen Jennings, also a

registered nurse at the agency. "This decision is evidence that the law

supports our right to organize and illegal interference on the part of

Health Midwest will not be tolerated."

Despite the favorable NLRB ruling, Nurses United probably will face

obstacles at other facilities of Health Midwest -- a company facing mounting

losses -- and at the bargaining table of union sites.

Richard W. Brown, Health Midwest's chief executive, painted a grim financial

future in a July 1 letter to employees.

The prospect of "decreased payments, increased expenses and demand,

projected into the future, suggests that we will lose money from operations

in each of the next four years," wrote Brown, projecting a fiscal 2002

operating loss of $40 million, rising to $75 million by 2004. "No

organization can sustain that kind of loss even over the short term."

Brown said Health Midwest had hired Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, a management

consulting firm, to analyze and streamline the company's entire operation.

The goal of Project Delta is find new revenues and cut costs while

maintaining high-quality care.

Brown wrote that Nurses United's negotiators had asked for a 24 percent

increase in nurses' wages at Lee's Summit Hospital, the first facility to

unionize. That increase alone would cost $80 million if applied across

Health Midwest's system, Brown said.

"This suggests an appalling lack of understanding of our financial

circumstances," Brown wrote.

Vanderhart, who is on the Menorah negotiating committee, said her group also

was seeking a 24 percent wage increase. The union, she said, called the

opening bid a "recruitment and retention proposal" subject to compromise.

Since then, Vanderhart said Menorah had countered with a wage increase the

same as other nurses in Health Midwest's system, which she described as

nominal, twice-yearly raises that include a cost-of-living adjustment.

Vanderhart said Health Midwest's lower pay structure drove young, newly

hired nurses to other health systems after four or five years.

"They get their training here, and they're gone," she said. "That's what

costs Health Midwest money. If you improve wages, staffing and benefits,

you'll be able to keep the competent people that you hire."

At a recent meeting of area labor and media officials, an organizer

expressed frustration at the pace of the bargaining, particularly at Lee's

Summit Hospital, where nurses unionized in April 2000.

"Negotiations have gone on for over a year, and we have not made significant

gains," said Gary Stevenson, Nurses United's executive director. "Contract

talks are critical right now."

Health Midwest executives say bargaining has been slowed by the size of the

nurses' negotiating committee.

Don Flora, president of Flora & Associates, a health-care consulting firm,

said Health Midwest's Project Delta analysis will have to consider the

impact of the nurses' organizing drive.

"Health Midwest has a lot of bricks-and-mortar issues, but the majority of

the costs are in personnel-related matters," Flora said. "To the extent that

they have labor issues, that will further complicate how they make business

decisions on how the system operates in the future."

And at least up to now, Health Midwest appears not to have changed how it

deals with the nurses' union campaign. Another hearing is scheduled for

today at the NLRB office in Overland Park.

The NLRB general counsel is charging Health Midwest with additional

violations at Lee's Summit Hospital and Medical Center of Independence. The

complaint says that last October at Lee's Summit, Health Midwest withheld a

cost-of-living raise that all company nurses received. That was a violation

because Health Midwest did not bargain with the union on the matter,

according to the complaint.

The complaint charges that management at Medical Center of Independence

illegally held a series of meetings in May in which a supervisor warned of

reprisals if the nurses voted for union representation. Nurses there voted

in early July in favor of Nurses United.

On each matter, Health Midwest has denied it violated federal labor laws.

In the current environment, nurses such as Menorah's Barnett are not

treating Aleman's 89-page decision as the end of the war.

"It's a great victory, but we're keeping our eyes on the prize," she said.

"We have to keep working until we all have a voice for our patients and

ourselves." >>

http:// http://www.kcstar.com

Thank you for the information. It has helped me decide that a union would be beneficial to nurses and patients. The hospital's behavior helped make this decision easy! They are crying that the are losing money (all while aquiring new hospitals). The union rep made a good point when she said "Would you buy a new house if you were broke?" Also their obvious attempts at union busting (all while denying it) are pretty sad.

I am not sure how the vote will go... Az is a right to work state, but I know how I will vote!

And another:


Good Prevails Over Evil, Says United Food and Commercial Workers International Union


WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- After a yearlong government investigation into nine federal labor violations by St. Alexius Hospital in Bismark, N.D., St. Alexius decided to keep their immoral actions from being exposed in ugly detail before a public hearing that was scheduled to take place in two weeks. Instead of trying to justify their illegal actions they agreed to the settlement terms proposed by the workers and the federal government.

The 1.4 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has been helping health care workers in North Dakota to improve working conditions and patient care. The nurses have been courageous and patient throughout the organizing campaign and this yearlong investigation. The nursing staff feels vindicated and are happy to see justice served.

Letecia Ramirez, union representative for the UFCW, said, "The part that is most troubling to me as a Catholic and a Christian is how the highest Catholic authority in this region, Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, condoned and supported the illegal and immoral actions of the St. Alexius Hospital Administration through his inaction. Instead of speaking out against oppression he chose to side with St. Alexius and allow these inhumane actions to flourish.

The charges revolve around the following violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

-- An unfair grievance committee that St. Alexius set up, loaded with hospital administrators. The committee must now be disbanded per the settlement agreement.

-- The unfair removal, suspension, discipline and transfer of an RN because of her union activity. St. Alexius has been ordered to post a sign promising not to violate any of the employees' rights.

-- Negative comments and the lowering of employee ratings, bad evaluations and discrimination because of their union activities. St. Alexius has been forced to expunge the RN's personnel files and to cease violating the law immediately.

-- The issuing of disciplinary letters in the RN's personnel files for voicing their support for the union. St. Alexius has been ordered to remove disciplinary letters from the RN's files and to stop harassing them immediately.

-- Suspending RN's unjustly without pay because of their union involvement. St. Alexius was made to rescind the suspension, provide back pay with interest and return the RN to her former position.

Ramirez also stated, "Although the federal charges were lengthy, they pale in comparison to the immoral injustices committed by this Catholic institution to not only the workers, but the community of Bismark.

This settlement agreement proves to all workers, and especially in the health care field, that they do have a right to form a union to improve their working conditions and fight for quality patient care.

Specializes in Peds/NICU/Dialysis.

I've worked both union and non-union hospitals and I would go with union any day. The state I'm in now has non-union hospitals and I'm looking to travel over an hour away just to get into a union hospital. I know you said the mandation is an issue for you but let me say I lived in Ny for 32 years and worked in a union hospital and our contract was strong in its wording that nurses could only be mandated for one of 2 reasons 1 being a natural disaster and 2 being 2RN calling in at the same time for the same shifts. They couldn't mandate us for "holes" in the schedule or to pull us to another unit. And mandation really was used as a last resort becasue whenever an administrator did it the union came down on them like a tons of bricks.

Like I've said I've worked in non-union hospitals as well and I'll tell you the lack of respect paid to the nurses by both the docs and the managers was disgusting. None of which, in my opinion, would have been tolerated with a strong union behind you. The unity and solidarity provided by a union presents a much stronger front to anyone looking to exploit a single nurse standing on her/his own.


We may see more unionization of hospitals in the next few years, but it may not really be a good thing for nurses. There has been talk in Washington (DC) about eliminating the requirement for secret union ballots. This could increase the number of unionized hospitals.

I am not trying to argue either way for or against unions (it's like arguing Ford and Chevy pickup trucks and which is better); my preference is to be a free agent and make my own decisions. On the other hand, I knew of a guy who was a union organization rep who drove a classic sports car and made decent money. His claim to fame was the number of women he had been with... most of them married.

What a guy! ;)

Specializes in Psych, education.

I have worked for both unionized hospitals and non-union hospitals. I would have to say that I like the non-union hospitals better.

The union can contract for very good wages and benefits, staffing ratios, training, etc., but it all has to be agreed upon by either the employer or decided by arbitration. You can ask for everything under the sun, but it does not mean it will go in your contract. Be careful of what you are going to be promised. With staffing ratios comes mandation (someone has to be there to maintain the ratios).

I had just the opposite experience as the original poster: I was a hard-working new nurse that went above and beyond for my patients. But, because I had no senority, it meant I received all the worst shifts, had to work all the holidays, and was chosen last for all the perks. People with 30 years experience who did the job minimum got everything they wanted. I got mandated at an astronomical rate because I didn't call out once/week like my co-workers did.

When I became a supervisor, the union told me I was now the enemy and stopped talking to me. Teamwork at its finest...so much for valuing professional growth. I would literally have employees who called out sick as much as once/week laugh at me and say, "It's my time, what are you going to do about it? Just give me my verbal warning." Nice. So much for the patients.

This may have been just a bad experience, but I have seen the bad a union can do. I'm not saying it is all bad, and there are certainly some places that could benefit. But, if your workplace is by and large fine, I wouldn't risk it. Just my opinion.

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