The formation of unions is standard practice for the protection of workers’ rights, but although unions are common in some sectors of industry, we tend to assume nurses are happy to work for the love of the job. But like any profession, nurses need protection and resources to help them deal with any job related issues during the course of their career, so what are the pros and cons of nursing unions?
Nursing unions are a slightly contentious issue. Those in favor of nursing unions believe that nurses need the protection offered by union membership whereas critics of nursing unions think unions cause complications to the working environment. So what are the pros and cons of nursing unions and should you consider joining one at your hospital?
What are the pros of nursing unions?
1. The role of a union is to protect the rights of its members, so becoming a member of a nursing union can help give you a voice that you might not otherwise have.
2. Nursing unions can help hardworking nurses enjoy better pay and working conditions. They can make sure nurses are not required to work ridiculously long shifts and have enough time off to recover from the stresses of the job.
3. Nursing unions can help nurses negotiate better contracts that reflect the level of hard work and commitment expected of anyone working in the nursing profession.
4. Nursing unions have been instrumental in pushing for new legislation to help protect nurses from unfair working conditions and harassment on the job.
What are the cons of nursing unions?
1. Union membership is not free, so if you choose to join a nursing union in your place of work, you will be required to pay your dues to the union. The membership fees are not extortionate, but they may be high enough to cancel out any pay rise you earn as a result of union pay negotiations.
2. Militant nursing unions can be extremely counterproductive to working relations between nurses and hospital management. Instead of talking and negotiating when new legislation is being introduced, nursing unions often incite their members to go on strike instead, which is never very helpful.
3. Nursing unions are helpful when it comes to contract negotiations, but once pay and working conditions have been agreed, the contracts might remain fixed for several years, which means no chance of a pay rise even if inflation pushes living expenses sky high.
4. Thanks to the protection afforded by union membership, it can be extremely difficult to fire nurses who are incompetent at their job. As a result, nurses who are not committed to the job, are very difficult to get rid of, which is not good for the morale of the other nurses.
5. Some nursing unions insist on being involved in all communications between management and nursing staff, which can make even the simplest of requests difficult to get authorized.
6. Nursing unions might support political policies the individual member does not agree with.