The nurses at Concord General are furious so they look for the union level to ensure their right. Last year’s cost-of living adjustment was not given, and prospects for next year’s are slim.
Benefits have been cut; working conditions are worsening, and overtime becoming mandatory. Reports from most of the department heads have revealed that in the busiest units, there are staffing shortages of up to 20 percent.
Salaries too are becoming a point of contention, as the salaries of nurses at the hospital are $2.70 below those of their competitors.
Last week, after a decision to suspend a nurse for failing to clock in became known, the nurses met to discuss their alternatives. Tammy Simpson, a vocal nurse with nine years experience stated the following:
We need to do something here. Our morale is at an all-time low. Our salaries are low, our benefits are being taken away, and some of the nurses are being unjustly disciplined. I went to Judy Sapp last week about our complaints and she said there if nothing she can do.
She realizes we are understaffed but says that Mr. Michals has implemented a hiring freeze. As for money, don’t expect any more soon. Salary compressions are horrendous, but they say there is no money to bring salaries up to market value.
Yet did you know that last month this hospital spent $378,000 to pave the parking lot that was paved last year? Sure, they had to spend their money so as not to lose their not-for-profit tax status. I think it is time we face this hospital’s administration and get some answers. But to do so, we must act as one. If we separate, we’ll go down the drain.
Hearing rumors of the meeting. Judy met with john Michaels to discuss the nurses’ concerns:
John, I think we have a problem that needs immediate attention. Our nurses are upset over a lot of things. In fact, their most out-spoken member is getting them to unite.
You know that two hospitals in this state have won the right to unionize, and I believe if we don’t act properly, we may be hit with a union campaign drive. Besides, we are now seventh out of the hospitals in the area with regard to salary levels of our R.N.’s
Judy, you are right. We don’t want a union here. But these nurses won’t unionize. I don’t believe a union could help them. Besides unions are not for professional employees. Sure our pay may be low, but that is no reason to unionize.
I think the nurses just need to blow off steam. So let them go. After airing their complain they’ll come back to their sense. And hey, we are giving a percent across. The-board rise next month. I’m sure that will ease the pain.
Sure enough, the raise went into effect. But the union was contacted anyway. Authorization cards were signed, and an election was held. The election results: 214 nurses voting for the union; 387 voting against the union.
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