Throughout my life, I have been a patient at various hospitals around the country, many times at Carson-Tahoe Hospital. I've always appreciated the dedicated, professional nurses who have contributed so much to my care and recovery. As noted in the Feb. 8 Appeal, the Local Government Employee Management Relations Board is considering the merits of union representation for nurses and respiratory therapists separate from other hospital employees. The board may take as long as 120 days to issue its ruling.
While sorting through a stack of personal papers recently, I found this short article titled "A Growing Trend," which may be of interest to your readers and those seeking a resolution to the current debate.
"Labor unions seeing their numbers decline and power wane in recent years are looking for new fertile ground to obtain both. Healthcare with its current upheavals (rooting) looks like the 'promised land' for future unionization, and hospitals are leading the way for some major cultivation. We are a growth industry despite economic drought among hospitals closing and consolidations.
"...the time is ripe, and the pickings are there ... unionization activities specifically of nursing personnel is on the rise in several states. At least that's insight given to us by both sides. Reasons? (a) the 'shortage,' (b) increased layoffs of hospital employees, (c) job security and respect and (d) lack of representation ... note the lack of emphasis on pay? Although it is often one of the concerns of nurses, it is not the primary one.
"A core problem is the average nurse feels there is no access to administration ... problem? Nurses express (1) they as a profession do not have a 'representative voice' with top hospital management (2) current nursing administrators, for the most part, are not perceived as 'power players' or initiators of change within the organization. Solution. It is critical that top administrators be very conspicuous in supporting nursing administrators as key players and decision makers. Otherwise, nurses will search for such 'representation' (i.e., unions) from outside the hospitals which will provide them leadership.
"How do 'they' spell relief? R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!!"
This excerpt is from the June 1988 edition of "The Ryan Advisory - Newsletter for Health Facilities Governing Boards," published by John L. Ryan, FACHE, FAAHC, FAAMA (retired President of Ryan Advisory, Inc.).
As deliberations continue, all parties should recognize nurses and respiratory therapists are not only members of the hospital team, they are key to providing good health care to patients of the hospital and its reputation in the community it serves.
ELLEN R. NELSON