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Unions anyone?

Posted

Hello everyone,

I've been doing alot of reading in these boards and I'm amazed at the unfair treatment we nurses are tolerating with understaffing and being forced to take responsibility for not only big things out of our control but even for the most minor mishaps.

I've been thinking of starting a union but I don't know the first thing about how to start. Does anyone have any suggestions or know where to get some info? I can't believe we are putting up with this in LTC and something has to be done. I'm usually not an activist but I feel so strongly about this and I can't get it out of my head.

Thanks,

Vonique

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

What is your location?

Davey Do

Has 41 years experience.

Unions were originally formed to create fair working conditions for the proletariat. That's a good concept in essence. However, in enforcing equal treatment across the board, all have to abide by a decision of the majority. Creative means of dealing with specific problems get lost in laborious exercies which are not only energy expending, but often futile.

Another approach in dealing with specific problems, such as understaffing, would be to approach Administration with documented facts. This is a direct, internal approch within the institution. Administration needs to have a chance to formally respond to the areas of concern.

If, after an adequate amount of attempts, the situation is not rectified, outside resources can be utilized. There are so-called bulldogs out there who look after the best interests of the individuals that institutions serve. There is the Dept. of Human Rights, Public Health Dept., and Joint Commision, to name a few.

Too often, Unions attempt to act as a blanket solution to all problems. This they cannot be.

Dave

merlee

Has 36 years experience.

I was happiest when I worked in a union place, many years ago. We were never overworked again and again, and we had a voice.

There are a variety of unions out there already.

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

Either you like the unions or not. I myself have been fortunate enough to have been protected by nursing unions at all jobs I've had in my life except for one. In my experience I find the unions that I've been a member of invaluable. I know it's popular right now with our political climate to bash the unions but you won't here anything negative from me about them. They were always there when I needed them.

CoffeeRTC, BSN, RN

Has 25 years experience.

Our facility has a union. They still don't have benefits, work madatory OT and work short.....one thing it does do...it so soooo hard to fire anyone. Even poor performers seem to get their job back.

Not all unions are good for the staff. Maybe it is just the one we have?

CloudySue

Specializes in Pediatric Private Duty; Camp Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

We have LPN or RN "supervisor" on our nametags so unions cannot approach us in the parking lot or whereever. Our place spends a lot of effort, especially at time of hire/orientation, to demonize unions. I would love to be sure that we had enough CNA's and was able to take our breaks. We're supposed to get one half hour and two paid 15's, but I don't think I've ever said to people, "I'm going on a 15 now." I have to force myself to take lunch! I wish I had all the money for the free work I've been forced by circumstance to give them. Lately I've been reminding myself, "This ain't the Red Cross! No free work for them! They make a profit here and not sharing it w you!"

Unions are not the answer to short staffing, missed breaks , madatory OT etc. We have had a union for 8 years we are on our third contract. The union contract benefits the union members as well as management as long as you have a good contract and that depends on your negotating team which consists of employees and management representation. One plus for management is with a union contract the rules of the job are specified clearly. For instance in our contract it is clear what happens when you are absent, if an employee is absent 4 times they enter into a disciplinary process which ultimately coud lead to termination. Same for tardiness. Staffing levels are a management right. The union can not dictate patient to staff ratios. Mandatory overtime can be enforced. Breaks will be paid if missed but have to be justified why missed. Unions have the good and the bad. They help maintain pay raises. They also keep poor performers employed. The top performers often pay the price for the under performers. It is difficult to discipline a poor performer unless they blatantly do something that violates a article in the contract which usually doesn't address there work performance. I have seen a few employees get disciplined for unsatisfactory work performance but it has taken a extensive paper trail to prove it. You will pay union dues which our RN staff pay in the area of $80 a month. The union members also have 11 step process before they will reach the top of the pay scale. They move one step per year so fiqure it out . Be careful what you wish for.

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

You realize that starting a union would be taking on a monumental task? People have been killed over this. I agree with your comments on working conditions. Management listens to us at their convenience. I wish we had unions here in Colorado, I've seen too many coworkers fired for petty and capricious reasons. If you are serious, you need to educate yourself on state law and other unions in your state. Without a strong and majorative sense of dissatisfaction among local nurses you would be standing alone. You would need a LOT of support from other nurses in the area. Start Googling and good luck!

I just wish there was a way to protect ourselves from having to work as though we have a hundred arms and legs, several heads, and about a million eyes. The workload in LTC is simply unreasonable! You either give the medicine and do the tasks as ordered, which will take way longer than the 8 hours you have, or you take shortcuts to get everything done in a timely fashion and risk getting fired for prepouring meds or giving a 9 pm med at 5.

There are some jobs that are simply undoable but the higher ups just don't care, as long as it looks good on paper. They don't care about your license because there will always be another nurse who needs a job.

I just wish there was somewhere to go to complain and have your concerns heard. Someone mentioned department of public health--well aren't they the ones who make up all those "rules" about a med pass. The ones that if we really abided by them would take about a week for one morning pass!!!! WHY DON'T THEY SEE THAT????

Short of a union, what else can I do????

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

either you like the unions or not. i myself have been fortunate enough to have been protected by nursing unions at all jobs i've had in my life except for one. in my experience i find the unions that i've been a member of invaluable. i know it's popular right now with our political climate to bash the unions but you won't here anything negative from me about them. they were always there when i needed them.

i agree. the unions really went to bat for us in terms of working conditions -- staffing, floating, breaks, etc.

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

When I was a staff nurse at the hospital, I HAD to join the union. They did nothing for me. They did, however, make it impossible for us to get rid of the unit secretary who wouldn't bathe and whose body odor could be smelled from one end of the hall to the other. When asked to bathe, she said it wasn't in her contract (it wasn't).

I've worked in other buildings with unions. We were expecting an admission and needed to move a bed. I asked one of the nurses who was at least 20 years younger than I to help me move a bed. He flat out refused saying it wasn't in his job description. I had a CNA who was chronically late and did a horrible job. He had been counseled on more than one occasion. When we could no longer tolerate his poor performance, we terminated him. The union steward came in and told me I couldn't term. him because he was a member of 2 protected classes. "What...dumb and DUMBER????"

I'm sorry y'all have rotten bosses. A union isn't the answer to all your problems. And as for the posters who think the nursing homes are making a huge profit, think again. Medicare and Medicaid have both cut back on reimbursement. It's estimated that 30% of facilities might close in the next 2 years.

"And as for the posters who think the nursing homes are making a huge profit, think again"

Oh, the poor nursing home owners! Let's help them dry their tears, boo hoo.....

Yes they DO make huge profits! That is why they are in it. And the DONs and administrators and CEOs also make 5 times what we make! Yet, they want the staff nurses to sign in a million areas of documentation, that way, when there is an error or a doubt, the nurse gets it up the you know what! Even though it was not his/her fault since

they were expected to do 5 hours of work in just 1.

Sorry, but that's the way it is.

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

That's NOT the way it is everywhere. I see the financial statements of my company every month...and every month we are losing money. And, frankly, since the administrator and director of nursing have much more responsibility they should be paid more.

"And as for the posters who think the nursing homes are making a huge profit, think again"

Oh, the poor nursing home owners! Let's help them dry their tears, boo hoo.....

Yes they DO make huge profits! That is why they are in it. And the DONs and administrators and CEOs also make 5 times what we make! Yet, they want the staff nurses to sign in a million areas of documentation, that way, when there is an error or a doubt, the nurse gets it up the you know what! Even though it was not his/her fault since

they were expected to do 5 hours of work in just 1.

Sorry, but that's the way it is.

What do they do with these "huge profits" ?? Administrators should make more then the staff. You would expect that if you were an administrator. Regulatory agencies (medicare, Jacho, HFAP,etc) are the reasons there is so much documentation. It is required to get payment or the highest reimbursement for the patients care. Documentation also protects you the nurse if you were to get sued . Reimbursement monies keep your place of business running , pays your wages, keeps you employed. There are many nurses that can not find jobs. I wonder why so many nurses complain about there working conditions but continue to stay ?

Well, maybe you are right when it comes to the smaller nursing homes, but I'm sure the larger corporations still rake in substantial gains. I understand the DON and administrator should make more because they have more responsibility, but I just wish they were a little more supportive toward the staff.

"I wonder why so many nurses complain about there working conditions but continue to stay ? "

I'm sure they stay because if they had to make a choice between feeding their children and working in a rathole or having the kids go without they would choose the former any day. The nursing home where I work has a large turnover of nurses. Some stay as little as two days. I have only been there five months but already I've seen at least six or seven nurses come and go, mostly staying a couple of months. Once another position opens up somewhere else, they are gone..............

CapeCodMermaid, RN

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

You shouldn't let your bad experience in that particular facility make you think all facilities are bad or all managers are uncaring, evil people. I support my staff in every way. They told me the old DON would believe anything any of the patients said and would fire people without any investigation. They were all told they were stupid. That is no way to treat people...my nurses know they can count on me to stand behind them. I investigate when I need to and if they are in the wrong of course they are counseled but they trust me to do what's right. They don't think they need a union because they are treated fairly by the management.

IowaKaren

Specializes in Assisted Living nursing, LTC/SNF nursing. Has 12 years experience.

You shouldn't let your bad experience in that particular facility make you think all facilities are bad or all managers are uncaring, evil people. I support my staff in every way. They told me the old DON would believe anything any of the patients said and would fire people without any investigation. They were all told they were stupid. That is no way to treat people...my nurses know they can count on me to stand behind them. I investigate when I need to and if they are in the wrong of course they are counseled but they trust me to do what's right. They don't think they need a union because they are treated fairly by the management.

I wish my Supervisor and DON would stand behind the nurses more. Your danged if you do and danged if you don't when it comes to residents and family complaints. They always have the "you should have done this, you should have done that," mentality but they weren't there in that particular position at that time and always believe the embelished statement from the resident/families. Oh, and it always looks so nice on your yearly evaluation that you had no idea about but find out during that evaluation, then when a place your are thinking of applying at wants to look at your evaluations, you feel like a failure since that is right there to see and nothing much about the good you do. Sorry about this, not really a situation about unions, although I support the union my company has, although I am an RN and not covered and since a staff RN, am really on the bottom of food chain it seems.