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Thread: Union Leaders, contact us

  1. #1

    Union Leaders, contact us

    This is for all Leaders and heads of unions. Contact or post on Ultimate Nurse. Let us know what's new with your union, where you are located, number of members, etc. Fill us in on the insides of union talk.

  2. #2
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    I know you have heard all the rants listed below, but I decided to let my 2 cents be known about why we are wanting union representation.

    Location: Texas (Not posting the city yet due to many anti-union persons do read forums, and we are just starting the union process etc... don't wanna tip them off)

    No "official" reps. voted on yet as we have just started the process. I have been asked to get info., and discuss our concerns and find out how a union can help us. I have been a member of a union before. It was many years ago with AFL-CIO and it was not healthcare related.

    Info. below is lengthy, and future updates will be much shorter. I felt it important to give an overall picture of our concers, and how we feel union representation may help us. I work for a large psych facility that is well known, and buying more facilities throughout the US.

    About me: I am an RN, with master's in behavioral health management, Ph.D. in Psychology. I began as an LVN working an all male psych unit in 1977. I currently work as a Registered Nurse. I years did ICU, PICU, ER alot of management, etc... then did in home counseling for home health/hospice for 10+ years, got tired of the paperwork, wanted to get back into psych facilities, and currently work an all male adolescent (ages 12-17) psych. unit with violent/aggressive boys. Some are sexual perpertrators, and all are large. I am not management, and do not ever plan to be. "Been there, done that", and like my options of locking the door and going home without a pager, and as it stands at this time, I like my overtime. I have worked in all areas of nursing, and have various certifications. I currently work psych., and for overtime will also work our rehab. unit. The rehab. let's me continue to work with PICC lines, wound vac's, vent. patients. I work doubles on Monday and Tuesday, and an 8 hour shift on Wed. to get my 40 hours. (great schedule) The other nurse works Thurs/Fri doubles, and her sister works 16 hr. on Sat/Sun.

    Unions considered: SEIU, AFT. (other options welcomed)

    Rationale for those as consideration at this time:
    They represent more than just the RN's. They rep. the LVN, maintenance workers, housekeeping, Rehab. Tech's (same as CNA, or mental health worker at some places) etc...

    Some reasons we want unification:
    We are team oriented, and management is not. Yearly, we are evaluated for merit raises in June, and beginning in April/May the "nasty" in management comes out. The CFO puts the pressure on the unit managers. The CFO dictates what staffing ratios and pay raises will be, and they are told not to exceed those numbers.

    Counselings to our RT's and select nurses, staffing cuts severely, asked to let a new RT work my unit or an RT they "don't care much for", so they can have a "paper trail". It is verbal, so they cannot get in trouble by the labor boards. Otherwords, they want the nurse to watch them and counsel them so they can come up with reasons to fire them. "We need a papertrail on ___" or "Keep an eye on ___". For 8 years, I have refused to play the game, so I am not a "favorite", but my quality of work and experience prevents me from being fired (so far). I have done many counselings that were warranted, but not for the reasons of papertrails etc.
    But, the other nurse 2 nurses on the unit, which are sister's, give negative verbal reports on the RT to management, so no one knows where the complaints came from. (gutless). The RT is either fired, or gets a very low raise.

    Merit raises are based on budget and not merit. We ARE told that. "Although, the raises can go up to 4%, no one will ever get that" "You know we are told to find stuff to keep that from happening" "Hell, you make more than me yearly" (because I work overtime). I am one of, if not the highest paid RN's on campus, and make $26.49 base rate. We get diff. of $2.00 hour for 3-11, and $3.50 for 11-7. Weekend rate, if you are full time weekend is $7.00 added to the base. If you are not full time, it is same diffs., as above. Our float pool gets $24-26/hr. I was hired full time at $25 hr. in June 2002. So I have earned a total of $1.49 since then for merit. I made over $100,000 last year, because I am willing to work overtime. (My schedule allows me to have 4 days a week off, so I often work 2 overtime days and still have 2 days a week off). I have worked there a total of 8 years, 5 years as PRN, then 3 as full time.

    Examples: Lack of continuity with following policies and procedures.
    Last year, I received 3.25% because "someone said you said ____ was sleeping with one of the RT's". It was supp. about one of the other nurses on my unit. There was no written counseling, and they refused to tell me who said it. I wanted to confront the person since it was not true, and they refused, but it was reflected on my merit raise under the "team work and communication" section. The other nurse received 3.75%, and lost a few points due to being sick "a little too much". None of either sister's med errors were reflected on their evals. One of them will have the whole day and evening shift that she does not sign out for meds., and routinely has daily ommission errors. They both wait till the next time they work to sign them out. Our unit manager does the same thing if he works for them when they are sick.... They cover for each other in many ways, gain up with their 2 votes to my one vote to change something or a unit rule for their liking... yes they usually "forget" to tell me or write it in the communication book.

    One in particular is friends with the DON "Oh, I am in good with ___ (DON)" Although she is "sick" every other Friday does not follow the unit guidelines for behavioral procedures etc... Campus Policy is not followed by those that are favorites. DON has said "You are the best nurse on this campus you really are, but what you say keeps you from getting to work extra (overtime) as a Center Supervisor. You are not what I want in that office". I speak up as a patient advocate, and will continue to stand up and speak if something is wrong, unethical etc... (it's ok, he hasn't liked me since he found out they offered me the DON job before him, and I turned it down. I confronted him once on misrepresenting something, and he sure didn't like that... ouch! my verbal slap mentioned above came the next week.) My manager told me as he raised his eyebrows, "Watch out, "DON" said next time it will be really bad. You are rocking the boat". ( a verbal threat to keep my mouth shut or I will get fired) Careful bossman, What goes around comes around. Why do you think the position you took was available.

    Written counselings are usually done on heresay. They refuse to produce a name, person, time/date when "your problem" happened. This happens with many RT's, some nurses, housekeepers, dietary staff etc... Management told one nurse they had many complaints on her, yet refused to produce any of the complaints, or the specifics.

    Many nurses call in sick over the policy limit, and due to the shortage of nurses, they are "talked" to and nothing formal is done. I have not had a sick day in 8 years, and although this policy does not affect me, I have seen RT's, and other workers get fired for the same thing a nurse has done.

    As with many places, it is not what ya know, but who ya know and suck up too.

    Staffing: Safety.
    The RTC units can hold 16 patients. My unit of the big, aggressive boys, and the other RTC has co-ed and a lower cognitive level of functioning. Although they too are sometimes aggressive, they are mostly not as strong as the boys on my unit.

    They have now cut staffing to 1 RN, and 2 RT's for the 7am - 11PM shifts. That is a 1:5 ratio. The RN charts, gives meds., does all restratints and seclusions, family notifications, MD orders, daily care plans, charts on each patient per shift and must chart on 5 other patients now due to the ratio, etc... That is 35 charts with full assessments, behaviors etc... Technically, the ratio is 1:16 for RN, and 1:5 for the unit per matrix of staff. I HAD 3 RT's, now only 2 and one due to senority, is a 5'5" 64 year old female. I love her, but she cannot restrain the boys. Myself and the male tech end up doing the restraints... sometimes it takes 7 people to safely contain, and carry an out of control boy to seclusion. It then takes 2-3 more staff to watch the rest of them, so they do not feed into the negative behaior and become aggressive.

    Sleeping on the job: Some do it and cover for each other. When management is notified... "Oh, he goes to school all day and is tired. Next time he works, just remind him to stay awake but don't write it." He was put on another unit, and continues to sleep as do others. Others, depending upon who you are, have been fired for it.

    Paychecks: Every payday, many checks are worng, esp in Jan. when the budget is being done. The staff are told they have to wait till the next check to get the money owed them. This happened to me when I had 42 hours of overtime due, and I could not get the money out of em, till the next paycheck. In Jan. most of the RT's checks were for 1 week, CFO went on vacation... they all had to wait. Managers do not turn in the time sheets on time... the staff have to wait till the next paycheck for the money owed to them. If you are not sick and have no callins for 6 months, you get a free day off or a free days pay... manager's have lost or held mine for 7 years past the 30 day time limit and I never got it!! (this happens to others also) This year, I rode his butt, and when he did it again, and said I had a call in showing, I backed it up with my work record of working a double the day he had listed, had no call ins or sick days for 8 years, then I reported it to the HR dept. 5 times, and I finally got my free day off. I had to take it in pay because, "we can't find coverage". I never got the other 14 days they owed me.

    Patient Location: The "locator".
    Patients are to be visualized every 15-20 minutes. We do random checks (12 to 20 min.) so the patients do not see a set pattern. Unit next door, messed up and we were put on probation by the state after it was reported that they wrote patients as being on the unit and one was actually left at the school room alone for 2 hours, the other was on pass with family... otherwords they didn't visualize the patients and documented the location wrong. Well, this past Monday, I went to that unit to ask the nurse something and one of their patients that is self abusive etc... was standing in the dayroom alone. Left on the unit... again!! It was covered up, by management saying "it was only for a minute". I know of 3 other times RT staff, not nurse, was fired for this as per policy. Oh yea, the woman I mention that is 64 yrs old, intentionally locked a patient out of the unit, forgot she did it. He called me from town to come get him, when he became afraid. I was with another patient when she did it, and thank goodness was not held accountable for her actions.

    No, she was not fired... because "she admitted what she did, and didn't cover it up, and well, you know everyone likes her" (It was reported to the state). She told me, "He pis_ed me off by taking too long to get in the door" "I just fu__ed up". BTW, She just received the star performer award, and was given $250 bonus for work I did, and she did admit she really didn't make the woodshop book she got the award for, but took the bonus money and the award. That's ok, we know...

    Dress Codes: Not consistently followed.
    Some wear jewlery, short shorts, long "dragon lady" nails, and others are counseled if they do it. Sandals are not allowed, but nurses, therapists wear flip flops... nothing is said, or "she has bunions and tennis shoes hurt her feet" Well, "she" supposedly got her foot stomped on, and was out sick again, on a Friday, due to work injury, was paid for time off even though she was not following policy. Hummm, no edema, etc or witness to it. WEll, the good thing about her always being sick... I get the overtime

    Salaries: On the rehab unit. 2 female charge nurses received a pay raise of 5% when they accepted the charge nurse position. The weekend gay male charge nurse received 2%, and was told the other 2 were also given 2%. (yes, he has a discrimination case if he wanted to pursue it) He has been there a long time, and worried he will get fired etc...

    New nurses, hiring in at higher rates than good vetran nurses, and getting more hours to work.

    Floating to other units:
    Many of the psych nurses have not worked with PICC lines or vents in years. It doesn't happen often, but If the rehab unit is "short", an LVN is floated to the RTC, and the RN from RTC is floated to the rehab unit. An RN must be in charge of the RTC units, so we end up covering the 2nd RTC unit as well as our own. The RN floated to the rehab unit does not feel qualified to work with the patients on that unit, but is told by the campus supervisor "I dont' have a choice, you have to go, they won't let us call agency". Due to experience, I usually end up floating to the rehab. and the other RN on RTC's covers up to 32 patients, etc...

    Only certain nurses, the 2 on RTC, are floated to the rehab unit. When asked why the other unit RN's are not floated: "They don't know what they are doing" , and "they (rehab nurses) don't like them". Sometimes, although it is rare, I have been pulled to go to the rehab unit to pull and give the narcotics because they have only impaired nurses working that have not been cleared to give narcotics yet.

    Workload: I do ALL computer work, activity schedules, laundry, showers, daily paperwork updates, and alot of the decision making on my unit. The 2 sister's? Give meds., forget to sign them out, do a check mark assessment, no writing of behaviors, and then sit in the dayroom and watch TV with the RT's.... TV is supp to ONLY be on Fri. nights. Manager is aware... shrugs shoulders, and says... "___ (DON) likes her, so that covers her sister too", or says "I am getting a paycheck, they could fire me today, and with the nurse shortage, I would just find another job". "Hey, they hired me as a psych nurse manager, and I have never worked psych" then he laughs. Some support huh?

    Another RN "bucked the system" and her lack of signing out her meds., was considered by the facility to be a continued problem and was supp. reported to the BNE.

    Yearly Mandatory Training: The RT's are suspended on the spot if they are ONE day late, some have been fired, but us nurses... well, "Let's reschedule you for another time next month. I got yer back covered".

    Why do we continue to work for them?
    Because we, not management, give exceptional care, and see results! A few bad apples, and poor management will not spoil our cart. We believe union representation can help to resolve some, if not all the above issues, and other issues not mentioned, and prevent future issues. It may even help weed out some of the ineffective management, and bring in true patient care advocates. Rose colored glasses? Maybe.

    Thank you for allowing me to rant our frustrations and issues. I will keep you posted about all aspects of which union we decide upon, how voting goes, and which issues actually get resolved, etc...

    Candydish

    Texas healthcare... get ready, cuz we are ready and long overdue for a union!

  3. #3
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    Welcome to the forums, Candydish. That's quite a story. I think I'll reserve comment on this issue for now. I'd like to hear what the union people have to say first. That is if they're willing to put it out here in a public forum. You just better be sure that you have over 50% of those eligible to vote, firmly committed to the cause.

    O_S

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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    WEll, yearly evals came out yesterday. Max score is "4" and lowest is "1" on the various areas... Manager said "I won't blow smoke up your a__s. No one is getting straight 4's across the board. CFO already said, it isn't happening".
    Although I did receive almost all 4's (exceeds requirments) I got a "2" (MEETS STANDARD). I of course asked why and here is the response.
    "someone said you said raises were going to be 2 1/2 percent". and ... "You made a comment about the staffing cut".
    I asked who it was etc... and told "it doesn't matter, it is just trivial stuff". Even though I did voice concern over the staffing cut, 2 RT's and one RN for a unit of 15 violent boys, it was with him, and in the team meeting, and it was strictly about safety. No negative, rude, etc... type of talk. I also told him I could not have said 2 1/2 percent, because HE told me, and others that IF you had a "4" it would be divided by 2, and that would be the raise. Well, simple math tells you, the number can never be over 2.. duhhh. There are NO counselings in my file this year, and one for last year. His comment about that "well, I just get told stuff" and he refused to give an example, or tell me who, or bring the person(s) to conference so I could confront them. I told him I do not consider it trivial if I am being evaluated on rumor, and heresay etc... and it shows up on my evaluation.
    I had a "3" in education... hummmm, he is a 3 year RN, and I have a master's and Ph.D. Yes, I do have more than the required CEU credits for licensure etc... I got a 4 in training and facility education. Not consistent.
    I was told, "it doesn't matter, these are just numbers, and it's a paycheck". "You and one other nurse got the highest scores on campus, and make more than the others anyway."
    I had perfect scores in competency... straight 4's, but they do not count towards the evaluation. They are on a seperate sheet of paper. We also do not, repeat not, sign our evaluations. They are reviewed with us, and turned in to HR.
    Also told, "If we give someone all 1's or all 4's we have to write a letter saying why they are so good or bad that you got the scores". I told him, so it is easier to just keep us in the 3.5 to 3.77 range huh? ... he just shrugged his shoulders.

    To be continued....

  5. #5
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    I worked in a unionized facility for 25 years and have learned in the long run unions are better for any workers than not having a union.

    Without a union you can be fired for most anything with little recourse. Nurses and hospital workers as well as nursing home workers have far more to gain not only for themselves but also in their jobs.

    I am an organizer for an industrial union that like many of the larger unions are now organizing healthcare workers so they will have better workplace conditions as well as better lives for their families.

    In our union the very workers in the workplace decide on dues, what the want in their contracts and who their leaders are.

    Manufacturing jobs are leaving the US in droves but not because of unions but because of greed from Corporate America.

    Healthcare workers have an advantage in they cannot send patients to China so since healthcare will always be a growing industry and it is to your benefit to form a union and protect your rights in the workplace and your wages and benefits in your private life.

    Our union is smaller than many but we have representatives in every state to help solve our members problems and protect your lives and futures.

    www.unionorganizing.net

  6. #6

    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    Health care worker don't have an advantage "because patients can't be sent to China." We have a disadvantage in that nurses can be imported so we can be replaced in that way.

    Would you care to tell us what the 25000 GM workers think of their union now. Or most of the airline workers in this country.

    As a foundation tool for workers rights unions had a place in this country. Today the government has seen fit to represent the worker albeit not perfectly.

    If you think nurses can't be replaced you are sadly mistaken.

    Talk to some pulp and paper workers about unions.

    Unions have outlived their usefulness in this country.

    The unions I've seen have pitted nurses against each other and have not created a team effort or harmony. On the contrary they have created greater rifts than would have existed naturally.

    WR,,, three commas for Becca

  7. #7
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    [ QUOTE ]
    WRRN said:Health care worker don't have an advantage "because patients can't be sent to China." We have a disadvantage in that nurses can be imported so we can be replaced in that way.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    The point he was trying to make, is there will always be a demand for healthcare workers. That is an excellent advantage to nurses.

    As opposed to the need for factory workers to make Reebok sneakers, clothing, widgets etc which is easily farmed out to sweatshops in Taiwan, Africa, China, etc.

    Don't kid yourself about us being replaceable. All of the Phillipines wouldn't come close to the number of nurses needed. Our jobs are quite safe, thank you (and our unions) very much.

    Andrew Lopez, RN
    http://www.nursinga2z.com

  8. #8
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    [ QUOTE ]
    WRRN said:The unions I've seen have pitted nurses against each other and have not created a team effort or harmony. On the contrary they have created greater rifts than would have existed naturally.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I've had the opposite experience with unions. I've seen better wages, benefits, job security and working conditions.

    Andrew Lopez, RN
    http://www.nursinga2z.com

  9. #9
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    Re: Union Leaders, contact us

    Quote Originally Posted by WRRN View Post
    Health care worker don't have an advantage "because patients can't be sent to China." We have a disadvantage in that nurses can be imported so we can be replaced in that way.
    If American Nurses are being replaced by nurses from foreign countries, that's a corporate greed issue.

    Unionized facilities can control how many foreign nurses are used in their contract negotiations.

    Andrew Lopez, RN
    http://www.nursefriendly.com

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    I feel the travelers need a union. anyone interested, let me know!
    Travelers are treated like disposable tissues. The contracts we are forced to sign allow the contracted hospitals to dismiss us without cause, essentially breaking the contracts we make with them. Most companies will not pay for your return trip home if you are released from a contract for any reason. Many hospitals abuse the system by firing travelers when their census drops, or their needs change. Rarely is a clinical defect evident. Performance is rarely a criteria for dismissal.
    Contracts need to hold the hospital accountable for the length of the contract, or at least notify the nurse that changes are coming. Nurses that commit to a certain place, travel there, make arrangements for their homes to be organized in their absence, need some assurance that their contracts will be upheld. Dismissal procedure needs to be on par with the staff employees. Warnings, including counseling should be included. Many hospitals do not follow appropriate orientation schedules, if any at all. This makes it much more difficult for the traveler to blend in smoothly. Contracts should include required orientation schedules, as well as weekly performance evaluations, so all parties can correct defaults by either side. I am hoping to get all travelers to unite to demand basic contract protections from their agencies. Until we stop working under these conditions, we will continue to be abused.

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