Published Jun 15, 2009
Hello. I just got and accepted an offer for a nurse extern position at a super awesome level one trauma hospital in the city I live in.
They have a union which I am eligible to join and I was just wondering what your experience with unions for nursing has been (good and bad) and if it's worth joining.
I work at a big hospital now that does not have a union so this is all new (and greek!) to me!
Virgo_RN, BSN, RN
I am a union member, and my feeling is that were it not for our union, we would have more patients and be paid less. Things such as mandatory overtime and pay increases would be solely at the discretion of the hospital, and not a part of a contract that the hospital is bound by. As far as making big changes to improve working conditions for nurses, I'm not sure the union does that, but I do think the union serves to hold the line against hospital administration making changes that would decrease the quality of working conditions. Plus, there is a layer of protection for the individual nurse in the form of having a union rep present during disciplinary meetings.
Join it. It may save your butt someday.
heron, ASN, RN
FYI ... there are a number of threads discussing unions - pro and con. Try a search on the word.
A lot depends on the particular union local ... the quality of the leadership and the involvement of the members. A disinterested membership just looking for someone to deal with the management for them often leaves the door open for the union leadership to feather their own nests at the expense of the membership. I have read many complaints here about union reps who were less than helpful and unions that take the dues and run. The only way to find out about your particular local is to talk to fellow employees, both in and out of the union.
On the other hand, I believe as other posters have said, that unions are the only way for nursing to have an advocate in the workplace. Without a contract that spells out work rules, compensation and such, your only protection is the company's own employee handbook and state/federal laws.
I have to say more positive things than negative for my union. My biggest complaint is that they are the union for the whole county and I think we should have branch just for nursing. There are some things that just don't apply with nursing that might with other job functions. I do agree that it does add a layer of protection in this sue happy/fire at will society.
In our facility, you don't have to join the union, but you still have to pay a "fee", so you might as well join.
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