In the United States, there is a debate going on about the viability and usefulness of unions in the work place right now. One of the professions that is strongly considering the advantages and disadvantages of a union is the nursing field. The pros and cons of a nursing union must be carefully weighed before a group decides to unionize or continue on with their union. These specific points of consideration can help to create a better understanding of the local situation.
What Are the Pros of a Nursing Union?
1. It provides a voice against the management of the health care provider.
In the business world, there is generally a divide between the worker and the manager in every industry. This is even true when considering tax-exempt status health care providers. Businesses today are always looking for ways to cut money out of a budget and nursing salaries are often a target of this process.
2. It counters the public releases that always occur during compensation negotiations.
During a negotiation in Boston where a nursing union when on strike at Quincy Medical Center, the health care provider’s president said this. “In today’s economy, nurses who are sitting by empty beds making $52 per hour is unfeasible.” Nurses don’t sit by empty beds. They often have numerous patients, sacrifice time with their families to care for others, and work crazy shift rotations. A nursing union counters this disinformation attempt.
3. It puts the focus on care instead of just profit.
There is this notion that because nurses are caregivers, they should be willing to give of their time without any consideration of their livelihood. In the meantime, all of the supporting resources that help to provide them with a paycheck are looking at ways to lessen how much money today’s nurses get paid because of this perspective. A nursing union can help to put the focus back onto care because skilled care provides a better chance for a 100% recovery.
4. It gives a nurse job security.
Although job security is dependent on the employment contract that has been signed, a nursing union can generally provide nurses with a better overall career option in terms of longevity than non-union employment options. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but exceptions shouldn’t be the foundation of an overall perception of the industry at large.
What Are the Cons of a Nursing Union?
1. Nursing unions require regular dues.
Although there are right to work states that don’t require employees to pay union dues to receive union benefits, there are still many that do have this requirement. Many nurses don’t like the idea of paying a percentage of their salary to the union, so this ultimately becomes a second problem in addition to the negative perspective of fighting for a viable, competitive wage in today’s marketplace.
2. Union actions aren’t always effective.
When the nurses at QMC went on strike in Boston, they still didn’t get their contract updates that they wanted. The medical provider simply brought in replacement workers for the strike and the nurses wound up having to go back to work without the contract that they wanted.
3. The idea of nurses striking is not something many people in the general public support.
Let’s think about what it means when nurses strike and there is no one available to work in a medical facility. It means that patients aren’t going to receive the care they need for a recovery. If replacements are found, it generally means that less skilled providers are coming in so care is provided. This goes against the nursing code of conduct to never walk out on a patient in need.
4. It could result in a proactive termination.
Most medical providers quickly stop talk of a nursing union and are willing to terminate employees and play them unemployment rather than face a unionization effort. Most nurses, however, typically don’t stick around with a medical provider that doesn’t properly support them. Nursing is an in-demand profession, which means unions aren’t always necessary to provide results.
How Do You Feel About Nursing Unions?
Unions have helped to build the United States and the world into a thriving place where success can be found. They may have also outlived their usefulness, especially in the health care industry. By weighing the pros and cons of a nursing union, it becomes possible to determine whether or not forming or joining a union is the right choice to make.