To Join or Not to Join a Nursing Union

There’s no word more divisive in an employment setting as “union.” It makes employers nervous and employees concerned about job security. But sometimes, it is in everyone’s best interest to join a union. If you’ve heard about a local nursing union or you’re looking into joining one, keep reading for some pros and cons of joining a nursing union.

What is a Union?

A labor union, also known as a trade union in some areas, is an official organization whose members are made up of paying workers in a specific industry. The organization is formed with the goal of protecting its members’ rights and advocating for better wages, hours, or working conditions.

Currently, there is a wide range of unions available for nurses, whether they be RNs, LVNs, or LPNs, so if you’re looking for options there are certainly plenty that will be suitable.

The Pros and Cons

If you are considering joining a union, it’s important to know about the advantages and disadvantages you’ll face as a member. We’ve gathered some of the most important pros and cons of joining to help you make a better decision.

Pro: Job Security

A union contract will usually forbid employee termination without real cause. If needed, the union might offer representation for the employee to make sure treatment is fair.

Con: Job Security (for bad employees)

It’s nice to have job security, especially if you’re good at what you do. But a union could make it more difficult to terminate employees that aren’t so great, the ones who are constantly late or who exhibit inappropriate work behavior.

Pro: Working Conditions

Since you have a lot of advocates behind you in the union, there will be a lot of pressure on employers to offer better nurse-patient rations, more safety rules, improved protocols, and eradication of mandatory overtime.

Con: Strikes

If you are part of a union, you are held accountable to be an active part of the group. This means that you are pretty much required to take part in any organized strikes. The strikes will only work to achieve better conditions if everyone participates, so make sure this is something you are comfortable participating in.

Pro: Better Wages

As part of a union, your pay increases will be automatic and guaranteed. You will also not be susceptible to lower wages due to budget cuts.

Con: Seniority Rules

While it’s nice in theory to have your raises guaranteed, they are really only given based on how long you’ve been working with your employer. They don’t take into account performance or any other circumstances that may merit a raise outside of a union.

Pro: A Process for Everything

Unions are highly regulated, and they like to stick to protocol. Unions will have a very particular method of addressing any grievances or complaints you might have. This will protect you from being terminated or unofficially punished.

Con: The Union is Everywhere

It’s great to have the backing of a union, but the union is going to be present in pretty much any situation, whether you feel you need it or not. Because of this, there could be a sort of adversarial relationship formed between employees and employers. The employer may see unions as a sort of gang of bodyguards whose only goal is to protect their members, whether or not that is good for the employer or facility.

Pro: Extra Benefits

Unions take a great interest in their members and will sometimes offer non-work-related benefits for being a member. These might include discounts for travel or insurance, grants for continuing education, or even assistance with mortgages or loans.

Con: The Cost

None of the above-mentioned benefits are free, though. Unions are able to exist because members pay yearly dues and other membership fees into the union. They are often automatically deducted from your paycheck, so you don’t have the option of skipping out on a payment if funds are tight. Make sure that you’ll feasibly be able to pay into the union long-term if you are looking to join.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether or not to join a union requires a bit of research and critical thinking. The above pros and cons are just a starting point for you, but if you’re still interested in joining, take some time to do a bit of online research to find out which unions are available near you and how much their membership fees are.

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