Protect. Advocate. Unite. Organize!
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
April 2010 Edition
Have you been wondering how to form a union in your facility? Are you interested in obtaining a legally protected voice to address nursing and workplace issues? Are you ready to join 23,000 nurses and health care professionals in the most powerful nurses union in Massachusetts? Take the first step! Read the questions and answers below and then give us a call.
Q. What is the first step in getting a union in my facility?
A. The first step in this process is to gauge the interest in forming a union at your facility and to set up a meeting with at least two like-minded co-workers. This is just an informational meeting. We can tell you about the Massachusetts Nurses Association and you can let us know about your facility. We meet at a place and time that is convenient for you and your co-workers, in groups as small as two or as large as necessary.
Q. What does it mean to have a union at work?
A. When a group of employees in a facility come together to form a union they gain a legally protected voice at work. Organizing a union is a right that is protected under both state and federal laws. Once unionized, your employer can no longer change existing practices without bargaining with you. Members create a democratic workplace that promotes union members to participate in negotiations, labor/management meetings, unit union activity and protected collective actions. Through collective bargaining, members can define the scope of nursing practice, promote high standards of nursing care, aggressively advocate for patients and work with management as equal partners to help ensure quality care for their patients.
Q. What federal law protects the right to form a union?
A. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed by Congress in 1935, protects the rights of employees to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing and to engage in activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or associated mutual aid or protection. In 1974 the NLRA was amended to cover employees of nonprofit health care institutions.
Q. What are my legal rights when forming a union at work?
A. You have the legal right to organize under the NLRA as described above. This law protects your right to talk to co-workers about forming a union before and after work; during breaks and meal periods; and in situations at work where patients are not present.
Q. Can I be fired for joining a union?
A. Federal law explicitly forbids employers from firing you for talking about, supporting or joining a union. Furthermore, you cannot be demoted, reprimanded or otherwise disciplined. Also, your employer cannot threaten the loss of benefits should you unionize.
Q. What are the advantages of forming a union at work?
A. The advantages of forming a union have long been identified. These include the ability to advocate on behalf of your patients and your nursing license, better pension and healthcare benefits, contractual job safety protections, increased employment security and safeguards against arbitrary actions by employers. Union members have a legally protected voice in their workplace. If you are interested in taking the first steps to form a union at your facility call 800.882.2056, x777 or email ENorton@mnarn.org. For more information about the MNA visit massnurses.org.