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Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining
Plan on Unionizing Nurses
In this case, the situation is represented by a 500 hundred bed hospital with 1.000 registered nurses. The American Professionals Union is trying to unionize these nurses. The hospital's management must decide whether it should support their nurses' efforts, or attempting to persuade them to remain union free.
The plan that must be developed is based on the following steps: establishing the pro-or con position that the hospital's management must take, determining what the reasons that would determine nurses to join the union are, identifying the benefits provided by the American Professionals Union to nurses for joining the union, developing a strategy that would determine nurses to remain union free.
Unions' Advantages and Disadvantages
The hospital's management must decide whether it is more efficient to support the nurses joining the union, or to determine them to decide that the union does not represent the solution to their problems. It is obvious that this decision must be made based on the benefits of joining or not joining the union to the hospital, and not necessarily to its nurses. In order to make this decision, the hospital's management should study the situation of other hospitals, public and private enterprises that employ unionized people, but also situations of employers with non-union members (Keller, 2012). In addition to this, numerous Gallup surveys reveal environmental factors in unionized and non-unionized workplaces, and their impact on employees' performance.
The disadvantage of having unionized nurses is that the union can pressure the hospital's management into increasing their wages. The working schedule can also be significantly influenced by union leaders that are able to negotiate with managers from a position of power. If nurses join the union, it is more likely to be able to go on strikes. The union's support in developing and maintaining strikes can affect the hospital's activity.
In case the nurses join the union and become unsatisfied with their work conditions at some point, the union will try to determine the hospital's management to improve these conditions. If managers refuse, the nurses can go on strike. In a business like healthcare, having nurses on strike can be quite dangerous. This is dangerous for patients, but it can also be dangerous to the hospital's and its managers' image to the public. The hospital's financial resources depend on the federal government. Therefore, it is not always possible to satisfy all of the nurses' needs, even if they are entitled to this. It is necessary that the hospital's activity is not threatened by the possibility of nurses going on strike.
In addition to this, the nurses joining the union would make it easier for them to accuse the hospital of unfair labor practice. It is obvious that in government financed organizations, like hospitals, workplace conditions cannot always meet the high standards demanded by employees. Therefore, the union could put significant pressure on the hospital's management in order to increase investments in improving the environment for employees. By doing so, this would determine reduced funds for patients and their health care.
The hospital's management should not support nurses into joining the union. This is because unionizing these nurses means that they might improve some of their work conditions, but in the detriment of patients. However, this is a sensitive issue that must be handled carefully by management. If the hospital declares itself against unionizing, the nurses might consider this as a power position imposed on them. They might feel threatened, they might feel that the management is against them. Therefore, the hospital's management must help nurses understand that by not supporting their unionizing attempt does not mean that the hospital does not support nurses into reaching their objectives.
Discussions between Management and Nurses
In order to reach the objective of persuading nurses into not joining the union, it is important that the hospital's management discusses with nurses about their reasons for attempting this. It is obvious that the nurses consider that by joining the union they would have more benefits in comparison with remaining union free. The hospital's management must identify these benefits, and develop strategies that would help nurses achieve them without joining the union. In addition to this, managers should present nurses the downside of joining the union.
Benefits of Nurses Joining the Union
The most important benefits of joining the union are of financial nature. It is a well established fact that union workers have higher salaries in comparison with non-unionized workers (SEIU, 2012). This is probably the most important reason for which nurses might want to join the union. The hospital's management must develop a survey among nurses and determine how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with their wages. Based on the results of the survey, the hospital's managers should discuss the situation with some of the head nurses. They should discuss nurses' expectations regarding their salary increases.
If the budget allows, nurses' salaries can be slightly increased, in order to reveal management's availability in discussing and solving their problems. This would somewhat reduce the importance of a union in the relationship between the hospital and its nurses. In addition to this, managers must make it clear to nurses that their wages cannot significantly increase because of the hospital's limited budget.
Another advantage of nurses joining the union is that they would have access to more benefits. Most union members are entitled to medical benefits, and in some cases, the partners of union members have access to these benefits. In this hospital's case, nurses already benefit from medical insurance. Therefore, the union could not provide them other benefits if they join.
However, management can expand its benefits offer by adding other medical activities that nurses do not currently benefit from. These activities can be performed within the hospital, which could have a return on its investment. It could be useful f the hospital provided some medical benefits to nurses' family members, like free consultations, check ups, and if it would reduce the fee paid for some of the tests performed within the hospital to nurses' family members. This again would reflect the hospital's management's intention in improving the situation of its nurses. This would also reflect the strong communication and relationship between the hospital and its nurses, which would not require the union in reaching their objectives.
Another advantage that nurses might think of when deciding to join the union is job security. Union members' contracts are more difficult to be terminated by the employer. However, the hospital's nurses must understand that the management has no intentions into doing so. This objective can be reached by the management revealing that no cases of nurses being fired at will have been reported in this hospital.
In order to persuade them into not joining the union, the hospital's management must also present nurses the disadvantages of unions. The union fees that members must pay on an annual basis can be considered somewhat consistent. This might not interest nurses.
Another disadvantage of joining the union is represented by the loss of autonomy. This means that union members cannot be treated as an individuality, but as a group. They must respect the union's decisions, even if they do not agree with them. However, this might not be an important decision making factor for nurses.
It seems that workplace environments with unionized workers are less collaborative. This is because unionized workers do not experience a sense of partnership and trust with their supervisors as non-unionized workers do. The numerous surveys developed by Gallup have reported that unionized workers stated that their supervisors acted like strict bosses. Non-union employees stated that their supervisors behaved like partners, and created a trusting and open environment.
The hospital's management should analyze its nurses' needs regarding their workplace environment. In other words, the managers must determine whether nurses are satisfied or not with their working environment. If they are satisfied, it means there is no need for them joining the union. If they are not satisfied, the management must identify what dissatisfies them, and what the factors that can make their workplace environment more satisfactory are.
Seniority can be another downside of joining the union. This means that members with seniority within the hospital can benefit from bigger perks in comparison with new employees. This means that new employees are more likely to be laid out first, even if they perform better than seniors. In addition to this, unions negotiate better perks in accordance with seniority, and not in accordance with performance. This can be considered unfair by some of the employees.
There are also other problems associated with unions and their members. Such problems are determined by the political environment that can turn against unions and their members. Union leaders have political interests. They are supported by political groups, and in exchange of…