In the know: Learn the lingo of nursing unions

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, December 22, 2008

Similar to drilling for oil, global climate change, and political party allegiance, talk of unions in healthcare stirs people's passions on both sides of the debate. But if you are considering working in a facility where nurses belong to a union, it's important to understand some of the commonly used lingo and your roles and responsibilities as part of a unionized labor force:

  • Collective bargaining is the legal term used to describe the process by which the employer and the union negotiate a contract. Hot topics or common issues at bargaining sessions include wages, hours worked, and conditions of employment that are acceptable for both sides.
  • Dues are the amount of money every member of the union is required to pay. Dues are usually automatically subtracted from your paycheck on a monthly basis, or as determined by the current contract. Nurses employed by union hospitals are reported to earn, on average, a higher salary than nurses working in nonunionized organizations. Many nurses report, however, that once they pay dues and other required fees, their salaries and benefits are not that different.
  • A contract is the legal agreement on all issues that have been negotiated. Unlike hospital policies or procedures, which the hospital management alone can change, a contract cannot be amended, or changed, without agreement from both management and employees.
  • Before being put into effect, a contract must be ratified. This means the members of the bargaining group must accept the terms of the contract.

Source: Stressed Out About Your Nursing Career, HCPro, Inc. 2008. Be sure to pick up your copy today!



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