Nursing unions are organizations that use traditional and non-traditional collaborative bargaining strategies to acquire organizational autonomy and control over nursing practices. These bargaining strategies help to insure that nurses have a safe practice environment and a voice in the resource allocation decisions that affect their ability to achieve quality health outcomes for patients. Such issues that affect the economic and general welfare of nurses and patients are nursing shortage crisis’s, wages, mandatory overtime restrictions, downsizing of nursing staff, systems redesign, and oppressive management practices that create poor nursing practice environments (Budd, Warino, & Patton, 2004).
Suzie Sepland is a highly respectable registered Nurse at Billings Hospital in Montana. She is consistent in her work ethic and considered at leader among her peers. A majority of the nursing staff at Billings are dissatisfied with many issues within the hospital, such as low wages, lack of qualified staffing, and high acuity levels onto of these many issues. The overall consensus from the nurses is that the administration is not addressing these issues. They wish for Nurse Sepland to take leadership initiative for unionization for the hospital.
The unionization of nurses can be a very controversial issue. In reading the article entitled, Collision course, nurse unions and the politics of heath care by Jean-Christian Vinel, the author states, “many RN’s remain reluctant to join a union because they do not think that it is compatible with their commitment to patients” (Vinel, 2014, pg.39). When nurses decide to join unions or professional organizations, they do so to work collectively to have control over their practice within the workplace and ensure equality between leadership and staff. Nurses such as Nurse Sepland that are considering the decision to join or take leadership within a union should consider the many responsibilities prior to taking on such a large task. There are some nurses that may feel that unionized nursing can be a disadvantage. With the affiliation of a union, employers sometimes endure stalled productivity due to conflicts of interest with a nursing union. For example, the management cannot easily make decisions and changes on pay scales and benefits concerning their employees without consulting with the union (Wicks, 2015). If a nurses goal is to create a cohesive working environment and insure safe practices for nurses and patients, then joining a union can be a positive step to help develop and improve failing conditions within the work place.
There are many alternatives for nurses that that wish to make a difference within the nursing profession that do not wish to join a unionization. There are professional nursing organizations such as the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANA is an organization that advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public (American Nurses Association, 2015).
As a nursing professional, it is important for all nurses to play a role in the advancement of the nursing profession. Whether it is through a union or organization, all strides to the betterment of the profession are important to the progression of nursing as a whole.
American Nurses Association. (2015). About ANA. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/aboutana
Budd, K., Warino, L., & Patton, M. (2004). Traditional and non-traditional collective bargaining: strategies to improve the patient care environment. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 9(1). Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume92004/No1Jan04/CollectiveBargainingStrategies.aspx
Vinel, J. (2014). Collision Course nurse unions and the politics of health care. Social Policy, 39-45.
Wicks, D. (2015). What Are Disadvantages of a Union for Nurses? | eHow. Retrieved April 9, 2015, from http://www.ehow.com/info_8758313_disadvantages-union-nurses.html