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Should Nurses Have the Power to Unionize?

Should Nurses Have the Power to Unionize?

Jennnifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN | NursingLink

Should nurses have the power to unionize?

The question is almost as old as the labor movement itself. Some nurses consider unionization unprofessional; others consider unions an essential tool to help ensure safe practice environments. The question, though, may soon be moot. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has proposed a Budget Repair Bill that will strip public employees – including nurses in state correctional facilities, psychiatric hospitals, long term care homes and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics – of their collective bargaining rights. Similar bills have been proposed in Indiana and Ohio.

The Issue: The End of Collective Bargaining?

The American Nurses Association first endorsed collective bargaining in 1946. At the time, collective bargaining was seen as a way to improve wages and work conditions. Over time, nurses’ attention shifted from wages, benefits, and work conditions, to patient safety issues. Recent strikes in California, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have focused on nurse-patient ratios after anecdotal evidence and scholarly research linked minimum nurse-to-patient ratios to improved patient outcomes.

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal (and others) would effectively eliminate collective bargaining for state employees. State employees could no longer use collective bargaining to negotiate benefits, a move Walker says is essential to balance the budget. Employees could still negotiate wages, but wage increases could not exceed inflation. Unions would no longer be allowed to deduct union dues from workers’ paychecks, a move that labor leaders say signals Walker’s intent to weaken unions.

“This is not a way to balance the budget but purely to dissolve unions,” says Jeff Weber, RN, vice president of the Milwaukee chapter of Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and a 15-year employee at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex. “Eliminating the ability of unions to collect dues through direct payroll contribution has nothing to do with a budget deficit, absolutely nothing to do with balancing the books of the state of Wisconsin. It has everything to do with busting the unions.”

Next: Why Nurses Are Concerned >>


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    almost 3 years ago

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    mcsmith

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I am for unionization. If something doesn't happen soon, nurses are going to do everyone's job on the floor and the patients are going to suffer more than they have ever before. Right now, On my floor,We are responsible for secretary, cna, monitor tech, housekeeping, stocking, PT, transporting, RT, duties. Oh and if we can fit it in RN duties as well. The manager's excuse, they can't hire experienced people. REALLY! With the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE?. West Tennessee

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    jmac671

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    If you unionize nurses and the union leaders decide to strike, you will get strike wages while the leaders are still getting full pay. I have a huge problem with this!!!! Unions served a purpose way
    back, but have outlived their usefulness!!!! Non union is the way to go.

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    pacunurse

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Nurses absolutely should unionize. "Professional" teachers, firefighters, and police (along with nurses) have a greater amount of autonomy under their collective bargaining agreement. To be able to effect positive change in your practice is crucial not only to patient satisfaction but the nurses.

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    debi58

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    no, Nursing is a profession. We are professionals. Look at other professional groups - lawyers, doctors, etc. They are not union.

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    kajung552

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Without the protections provided by union contracts, nurses have no real protection to advocate for patients without fear of losing our job. So, absolutely, nurses need collective bargaining rights. Having a union makes us better and stronger patient advocates and allows us to provide the kind of care all of us came into this profession to provide. Yes, Union!!

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    dlrooky

    over 3 years ago

    4 comments

    Should nurses have the right to unionize? Absolutely! Have unions gone too far? Yes, in many cases. The problem is that unions are being treated monolithically. Some people still think of unions as get rich quick schemes for union leaders named Lucchese or Hoffa. It does not appear to me that there are exceptions or any extenuating circumstances being accounted for by the proposed legislation. I do not believe that unions are needed in every situation, nor do I believe that all management is evil or all corporations and governments are greedy. I think more often than not, the problem is non-medical people making decisions bearing on medical outcomes. This is not necessarily greed, but lack of knowledge or different priorities. There is a need for bargaining and/or some kind of grievance procedure or mediation. Just out of curiousity, I would like to see those statistics of unionized vs. non-unionized hospitals and see if that is the only control factor.

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    Dogfairy

    over 3 years ago

    6 comments

    First of all, please get rid of that insulting photo of a nurse yelling through a bullhorn.

    Secondly, I truly do not understand why the question is even being asked on a site like this. I thought you were supportive of our profession and I am disappointed. Of course, nurses should have collective bargaining rights. Are you truly naive enough to think that corporate hospital managements have enough honor to create viable working conditions for nurses to have any sort of quality of life and for patients to have any sort of meaningful care after what you have seen over the last few decades? Shame on you!

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    Ludlow

    over 3 years ago

    18 comments

    Nurses absolutely need collective bargaining rights! All nurses. It gives us a voice to improve patient safety conditions. It is why patients at unionized hospitals DO have better outcomes.

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