Unions and Vacation

Nurses General Nursing


I am fairly new to nursing and this is my first job in a union hospital. At my last job (non union) everyone got 2 weeks of vacation in the summer. It may not have been the week you requested but you got it. At my new job I was informed not to even bother requesting off anytime in the summer because according to the union, vacation is determined by senioity and all the snior people take thier full five weeks off in the summer time. A nurse who has worked in this unit for 20+ years says she still does not get a week off in the summer. Most of the nurses in my unit have been there for over 20 years. My question is, is this typical of all unions? I am really unhappy at this hospital for other reasons and in my next job search I may rule out union hospitals.

rjflyn, ASN, RN

1,240 Posts

Specializes in Emergency.

Thats typically how it works. We bid in March for the year May1 to April 30. Bid went by senority ie the person in the dept with the most bid first- but only their first 2 weeks vaction until every one has bid then the rest of the time was first come first serve. My example with one year senority was my vaction was for the last year the first full week in Nov and the second full week in April. Basicly for get about Jun, July and August, and hope you kids go to one of the all year schools that have the two week breaks and maybe you get your week then.



1,277 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/ICU.
My question is, is this typical of all unions?
I don't think you can blame the union for this. The union respresents what the nurses want and each contract is unique. Everywhere I've ever worked, union or not, vacation requests were granted by senority. I guess it would depend on how many staff are available to cover vacations. We usually use travellers for vacations and leaves of absence. That's the hospital's choice, I would think, to use temporary staff.


1 Article; 3,037 Posts

Specializes in Medical.

That seems so unfair!

We have annual leave built in to the staffing numbers - I think we can have 4.3 EFT on leave at any one time, and leave is allocated by a combination of first come/first serve and negotiation.


921 Posts

When is your union contract up for re-negotiation? This is an issue that you should certainly bring up during that time. I would request that vacation time be limited to 2 weeks at a time and only one 2 week vacation over the summer months (June, July, August) I would also try and get language in there that allows for more than a few people to go on vacation at one time. This will allow everyone, not just the senior nurses, to have some time off. The union represents everyone, but what sometimes happens is the most senior nurses end-up at the bargaining table. They start bargaining for a contract that will benefit themselves, rather than everyone. Yes, you want to retain your more experienced nurses, but you also want to be able to recruit and hire new nurses. It's a balance that is sometimes difficult.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

This is why I always consider taking vacations at times when others are not clamoring for the same block of dates. I often get great discounts on places to stay, etc, when I choose to vacation in late September, for instance, versus Jun-Aug. And everything is so much less crowded, too. Anyhow that is one possible solution, esp if you don't have kids in school, like me.


6,620 Posts

Our hospital does just like Feisty suggested. This isn't a union vs non-union issue.

rjflyn, ASN, RN

1,240 Posts

Specializes in Emergency.

What Feisty says would be all fine and good but--when you have departments with around a 100 or more nurses and 12 or 13 weeks that is "summer" its about impossible to get everyone off during that period. As far as mentioning changes to the contract-- yeah right-- we just did at our hospital and because of the shear number of more senior nurses it has become pretty much an untouchable issue. So you do what I did you take it when you can and go someplace warm ie I went to Hawaii in November and it was beautiful.

That or the other option is, your a nurse, theres a shortage let your feet do the talking-- go elsewhere.


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