Labor Laws and Unions
February 11, 2013
Labor Laws and Unions
The profession of nursing has been around since 1866 in America. The profession began as one not so highly regarded in society. Initially prostitutes were hired as nurses. Then nursing developed into a handmaiden role where women who had joined a convent tended to the sick. No matter who assumed the role as a nurse, it was seen as a menial role in society. The nurses were at the mercy of the physicians. They were not seen as a valuable part of the medical community. Their primary purpose was to sit with the ill, bathe them and clean their linens when dirty.
It wasn’t until nurses ...view middle of the document...
Membership into nursing unions grew substantially, not only because of poor wages but because of poor nursing conditions within the workplace. Nurses were constantly bringing their concerns to management. They were either meet with deaf ears or were terminated without cause.
Initially, most nurses did not favor joining a union of any kind. They felt that unions were more for the working man and “blue-collar” workers. It wasn’t until management began downsizing, starting with professional nurses did they begin to consider the benefits of joining the union. Hospital management felt that they could downsize the number of professional nurses on staff and substitute them with nurses’ aides, and vocational nurses. This would save them a considerable amount of money to allocate funds elsewhere. Also during that time, employees of state hospitals and institutions were not allowed to strike or form separate bargaining units. It was not until 1974 that all changed. “In 1974, the Taft-Hartley Act was amended by Congress allowing nongovernmental, not-for-profit, hospital employees the right to unionize” (Stearley, 1996).
Initially, when nurses in a hospital considered unionizing, the management felt threatened and would implement threats to nurses if they considered joining the union. In St. Louis, Missouri, the hospital management spent over $200,000 to produce an anti-union movie that they required all newly hired nurses to view. The movie was made to show the nurses how corrupt the union organization is (Stearley, 1996).
This practice of threats and termination of employment did not deter the nurses. The largest union representing nurses is the National Nurses United Union. They have over 150,000 members in every state. To introduce a union into the hospital, a union representative had to be invited. They could hold meetings off of the hospital grounds and the meetings would be attended during off duty times. They request each interested member sign union card. They must have at least 30% of the intended population to generate a vote. Then when a vote is finally made, they must have more than 50% of the vote. After a vote is completed and if a decision was made to become union, then many different things can occur. The process of collective bargaining begins. Formal proposals and/or a list of demands are made and negotiations begin. Usually, collective bargaining has three phases. The first phase starts with the formal proposals and/or demands. Both sides strive to demonstrate the legitimacy of their demands. The second phase of collective bargaining is when the serious discussions begin. Mostly secondary issues are addressed. The third phase is when the primary issues are addressed due to time constraints and deadlines (Budd, Warino, & Patton, 2004).
Historically, collective bargaining has been a strategy of “them vs. us” – where essentially one side feels they are the victors and the other side is the loser. This...