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Week 11: Collective Bargaining
NURS6201: Leadership in Nursing and Healthcare
February 4, 2019
My Experience Working in a Unionized Setting
The purpose of labor unions is to ensure management treat staff fairly and provide them with benefits (Ash, Seago & Spetz, 2014). That’s why I favor unions. I recently became a nurse manager with a large primary care organization. However, my prior experiences have been in non-management roles. In my most recent position, I was a unionized nurse. I appreciated the union. We were able to negotiate modest wages, improve work conditions, and limit disrespectful dialogue by management when interacting with staffs. For example, we provided psychiatric case management services for a severely mentally ill population. For several months, we either had a psychiatrist who was available 4 hours a week or no psychiatric at all for the 24-hour program. We worked very hard to care for and keep our symptomatic patients safe under these conditions. We frequently pleaded with management to get us a full-time psychiatrist to service our patients. Finally, we presented our demands to the union. Not only did we get a full-time psychiatrist, but we received first aid kits from our vehicles as well as seat covers. What I didn’t understand is why management was so upset with us enlisting the support of the union when we for months made them aware of the patient and staff safety concerns and work conditions.
The union allowed us to have a voice. According to Marquis and Huston, nurse managers feel that healthcare organizations differ from industrial organizations (2017, p. 587). My thought is that these nurse managers believe that healthcare workers have better work conditions than industrial workers. In my experience, this is far from true. Healthcare workers are some of the most over-worked groups. The most significant difference I perceive is that healthcare workers receive higher wages and are respected more by the public than industrialized workers, but our work conditions can be just as offensive.
Transitioning from Unionized nurse to Nurse Manager
My current place of employment is not unionized. However, as a nurse manager, I still believe that staff should consider unionizing if their needs or the patient’s needs are not being met. My personal goal as a new manager and a leader within this organization is to improve current policies and develop new systems that meet the needs of subordinates while protecting patients and sustaining the organization. Unfair practices will lead to unionization (Marquis & Huston, 2017, p. 590). If a union is organized, I do not think I would be against it as a manager. The union is to protect staff. My only concern would be strikes and walk-offs. The patients will be adversely impacted by strikes and walk-offs. Nurse work conditions are patient care conditions (Manthous, 2014, p. 393). Therefore, my goal as the nurse manager is to ensure my teams working conditions are supreme. I’m looking to increase paid time off hours as a means of reducing staffs stress levels, establish open communication between myself and those I manage and create a mutually respectful environment. I believe patient receive better care from employees that are happy in their roles.
Ash, M., Seago, A. and Spetz, J. (2014). What do health care unions do? A response to manthous. Medical care, 52(5), 393-397. Doi:10.1097/MLR.0000000000000124.
Manthous, A. (2014). Labor unions in medicine. The intersection of patient advocacy and self-advocacy. Medical care. 52(5), 387-392.
Marquis, B. L., & Huston, C. J. (2017). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.