Friday, September 29, 2006

What do we do now?

The blog has been active for less than a month and we have had 96 hits so far with only word of mouth advertising. We have had several very good comments expressing individual views and concerns. The one comment that was deleted included the person’s name. That individual liked the new productivity program and the opportunity to earn extra pay. If they would like to resend their comment without their name or include permission to use their name, we would be happy to post it.

“What do we do now?” We need to get more staff aware of what is going on. Spread the word to other nurses. Encourage them to visit the Blog and leave a comment. An email account has been set up for those that would like to become more active. Names will not be published or given out unless we have your permission. We want nurses from all parts of MCHS. If you want to participate, contact us at mchsunion@yahoo.com. We will schedule a meeting to develop a plan of action when there is sufficient response.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A note on leaving comments...

This blog is set up so that you NEVER have to put in an e-mail to leave comments, in order to protect your identity. If you want to leave comments in this blog, you need to click on the word that says "Comments".

If you see something asking for your e-mail, you have clicked on the wrong thing!

For example, if you click on the envelope picture next to "Comments"; that will take you to a page that lets you send the address of the blog to others. Anything that you type there will not be recieved by us, and therefore cannot be posted.

Thanks,
Blog Webmaster

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How Do We Form a Union?

1. The first step is to establish a nurse-to-nurse network. The purpose of this blog is to see if there is a level of interest that would make this possible and to encourage nurses to talk to each other about a union. Each entry has a link labeled "Comments" where nurses are encouraged to respond to and state their concerns and desires.

2. If there is enough support, then the next step is to have an informational meeting. We could decide on a course of action and contact a nurses union that we could affiliate with. The California Nurses Association (http://www.calnurses.org/) has expressed interest in helping us form a union. They would provide us with information, guidance, literature and negotiators.

3. If a majority of nurses were willing to sign union cards (which are not shown to the employer), then we could have a system-wide election, run by state government officials, to decide if we want to be represented by a union.

4. Finally, if we vote for a union (simple majority required), then we could form it and begin electing officers. Then a team of our nurses and union negotiators could be selected to begin bargaining with MCHS for a union contract.

Feedback

We need your feedback. Express your views. Indicate your feelings about a nurses union and if you would support one. We will not give out your name, email address or any other information identifying information about you without your permission. Please go to the "Comments" link and state your feelings. With this information we can decide if a union meeting would be useful. Tell your fellow nurses about this blog. The more input we have, the better. Management can read the blog also but be aware, any comments by management could be a violation of the NLRA.

We will update this blog as needed. Hopefully your feedback will provide helpful information.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Benefits of Forming a Union

1. A union would help us improve our salary and benefits package. Currently our annual raises are based on how little they can pay to keep us from leaving. The hospitals in the region find out what the others will be increasing salaries to and then follow suit. Frequently this raise does not even keep up with inflation. Our benefits decrease or the cost for them increases so that the raise does not increase our take home pay significantly. Also our longevity increases are capped so that many senior nurses have not received a pay raise in years.

2. We could improve standards for nurse and patient protection. Establishing patient care ratios would give us the opportunity to provide safe, comprehensive care to all our patients. We could establish a safe floating policy and professional practice committees that would insure patient care standards. Paid educational leave would help us keep our practice skills up to date and maintain our license.

3. Retirement security is far from the minds of nurses less than 30. But for the more experienced nurses, retirement is a current issue. A union would help us improve our defined benefit plan to help younger nurses plan for retirement and provide for retiree health care benefits for those that retire before 65.

4. A union would give us the ability to stand up for each other and our patients. It is a means of empowerment and respect for nurses. We would have a voice in our facility and in the community.

5. A legally binding contract would be established that would insure our rights and benefits, preventing management from changing the rules at their discretion and ignoring the impact on staff and patients.


Disadvantages of Forming a Union

1. Unions cost money and time. Union dues for the California Nurses Association equal 2.2 times one hour of salary per month. Example, if you make $20/hr, your monthly dues would be $44 (tax deductible if you itemize). They cap dues at a maximum of $89.50/mo and reduce it for those working less than 12 hours a week. Also, there are meetings to attend, possible picket line duties and if voted for by the membership, we could have to strike.

2. As a contract would insure our rights and benefits, it obligates us as well. Our job descriptions would be clearly defined. Failing to meet those standards could be used in disciplinary proceedings.

3. All negotiations must be done through the union. Making changes would be more time consuming.

4. It could be more difficult to get rid of substandard nurses, as all nurses would have a union representative that would support them.

5. Management could become more distant if they see the union as an adversary. It might make them reluctant to solve a problem until they have consulted with the union.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Working at Moses Cone

Moses Cone can be a great place to work. We offer excellent care to a diverse community in a pleasant environment. The people we work with are caring, hard working and interested in providing the best patient care possible. We have excellent, well-maintained facilities and provide the latest in patient treatments.

In the last few years, there have been many changes at MCHS. Most improve patient care, some address problems and others just seem to make it more difficult or less pleasant to do our jobs. Everyone is familiar with the uniform and floating issues. A good deal of time has been expended on these issues with final result being that we were told how it was going to be with little regard for our concerns. More recently, we have been presented with a change in Family Medical Leave that requires us to use up all of our leave time before we can use leave without pay. Also it restricts when we can use vacation time after we have been on FLMA.

The latest change to be presented to us will be the new bonus program. The old bonus program was bad enough. We usually received less than half of the gross amount awarded. We have not heard the details of the new program but the general feeling is that we will receive less than we did under the old program.

Let us not forget about patient care. How many times have you been required to float to a unit that is completely outside of your area of knowledge? Or perhaps your unit is under staffed and you are required to take a heavier patient care assignment. Your ability to provide adequate, safe patient care is compromised, not to mention the risk to your nursing license.

We are told that we have a voice in decision making through the Shared Governance Committee. Little of what we offer ever seems to make it out of the room, much less get implemented. A lot of time and money is spent on this committee that could be better used elsewhere. It seems like it is time that we did something about this situation.

The only way that we can effect change at MCHS is through a single voice. We need to consider forming a union of nurses, run by nurses, to improve patient care standards and our working environment. There have been unions formed in California (http://www.calnurses.org/), New York (http://www.nysna.org/), and Illinois (represented by CNA). They set work standards, patient care standards and benefit levels. They also are politically active and been instrumental in changing state laws regarding health care issues.

Many nurses are concerned about starting a union. They don’t want to go out on strike, are concerned they will lose their jobs, think that they will have to pay high union dues or be disciplined at work for even talking about a union.

Under the National Labor Relations Act (http://www.union-organizing.com/rights.html), we have the right to talk about, meet and form a union if we so desire. Management cannot legally ask us anything about a union, our membership, or level of interest. We can post signs, wear union buttons, and talk about the union at work when we would normally be allowed to talk about non-work related topics.

woodbury commons