A Better Life…
Why would anyone in the Healthcare field want to belong to a Union? After all we can all take care of ourselves, right? “I don’t need anyone to speak for me!” But stop and think have – you ever been in a position where you decided not to “rock the boat” because you were concerned that your work environment would be negatively affected if you spoke your mind? Have you ever brought a situation to your supervisor expecting it to be taken seriously only to have it ignored, neglected or even belittled? Are you in the situation of accepting the wage and benefit package your employer offers you without even having the opportunity to discuss it? Have you ever found yourself facing an unfair disciplinary action with no one at your side, no one to take your part or help explain your side of the situation? If you’ve ever had any one of these experiences you would benefit from Union representation.
RN’s and Unions Are a Good Fit:
- The mean weekly earnings for RN’s who were union members increased 20% from 2004 to 2014-whereas nonunion RN’s actually lost $43 in buying power due to inflation (2004 to 2014)Union RN’s earned $306 more per week than their nonunion colleagues did in 2014.
- In 2014 17% of RN’s and 10.7% of LPN’s were union members.
- In 1946 the American Nurses Association endorsed collective bargaining as a way to gain economic security and influence over employment issues. 1947 the Taft-Hartley Act exempted non-profit hospitals from the Labor Relations Act, meaning employees could not join a labor union. That prohibition was finally struck down in 1974.
- Laborers Local 341 has represented RN’s and Service Workers at Alaska Regional Hospital since 1999; as well as the Certified Nursing Assistants at PrestigeCare. In 2012 the RN’s and LPN’s at PrestigeCare voted to join the Laborers.
Nursing is Hard Work:
- Hospitals and nursing care facilities ranked number one and two in number of nonfatal occupational injuries by industry in 2005
- 39% of RN injuries resulting in missing work were attributed to overexertion in general
- 5% of RN injuries were attributed to assaults on the job
- RN’s have the 5th highest incidence of musculoskeletal disorders among all occupations
- *Moral distress or ethical stress faced by nurses also poses serious health consequences. One study found that 15% of nurses reported leaving a position as a result of the moral distress they encountered.
* “Moral distress or ethical stress is the physical or emotional suffering that is experienced when constraints(internal or external) prevent one from following the course of action that one believes is right” Corley, M.C., R.K. Elswick, M. Gorman, and T. Clor. Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 33, Issue 2, January 2001, pp.250-256.
- Health care and social assistance had the highest rate of musculoskeletal disorders related to work injuries of any private industry.
- In 2014 10.5% of working women were union members.
- 48% of all union members were women, up from 19% in 1962.
- In 2014 union women earned weekly wages that were 24% more than nonunion women. Union RN’s make 23% per hour more than nonunion RN’s.
- Union men and women are more likely than non-union employees to have health and pension benefits, paid holidays and vacations, life, medical and disability insurance.
- Unions educate their member about “legislated labor protections and rights, such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave”; and “play a pivotal role…. in enforcing those rights on the job.”
- Because they are better informed, Union members are “more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation.”
- Studies have shown that for nurses, Union representation promotes “respect and stability among staff, better communication with physicians, and increased confidence in decisions that may have a secondary consequence of better patient outcomes than in non-union hospitals” (Seago and Ash, 2002).
- Union membership may increase job satisfaction among nurses. “By giving them the ‘voice’ that is so desperately needed, nurses may then decide to stay in nursing and encourage young people to consider nursing as a profession eventually relieving the shortage that is causing the current problems in staffing” (Bruder, 1999).
- One study suggests that in hospitals where the RN’s have a Union there is a decrease in the mortality rates for heart attack patients, possibly due to the improved communication between all members of the healthcare team a Union presence encourages (Seago & Ash, 2002).
- Nurses covered by a Union contract earn 14% per week more than non-represented nurses.