Discussion: The Unionization of Employees


If there is no struggle, there is no progress.—Frederick DouglassSince their initial rise in the post-Civil War era, unions across the United States have called public attention to unfair labor practices, wage disparities, and inadequate benefits. Union leaders and nurse managers are learning to approach the unionization of employees as a partnership. Union leaders have taken strides to negotiate with managers in quick and efficient “good faith” dealings, while nurse managers enter negotiations with open minds and the intent to reach an agreement. To benefit future generations of nursing professionals, nurse managers must understand how to effectively respond to unionization attempts and how to partner with union leaders.To prepareReview the article “Making a Union/Management Partnership Really Work” in this week’s Learning Resources. Consider how the union and district health board portrayed in this article worked together to create the joint action group. Think about the positive outcomes of this endeavor. How might nurse managers work with health care unions to solicit such a partnership?Examine the article “Unions in the Healthcare Industry,” taking note of the timeline of unionized activities such as the collective bargaining process, the campaign period, and the outcomes of unionization. How do the legal landscape and social environment of a health care setting change once workers engage in unionized activities?Review the media pieces, “The Saga of TrulyGood Hospital” and “The Saga of Beneficent Hospital.”               

Reflect upon the situations presented in each media case study, and select one for your Discussion posting.Consider why the staff might be seeking union representation. As a nurse manager, consider the steps you might take to address the situation before, during, and after the time period depicted in the case study.Note: Before you submit your initial post, replace the subject line (“Week 3 Discussion”) with the name of the case study you selected.

By Day 3

Post a description of at least one reason the nursing staff in the case you selected might decide to unionize. Explain three steps you, as a nurse manager, could take to effectively respond to unionization attempts. Then, discuss HR’s role in helping to legally address labor relations and unionization attempts. Justify your response by citing past experiences with unions, union organizing activities, current labor policies, and/or this week’s Learning Resources.

Required Readings

Lussier, R. N., & Hendon, J. R. (2016). Human resource management: Functions, applications, & skill development (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Chapter 10, “Employee and Labor Relations” (pp. 356–397)                   This chapter introduces the concept and legal landscape of labor relations. It highlights the importance of communication and trust, along with labor relations’ influence on job satisfaction and workplace conflict.Brooke, P. S. (2011). 

Legally speaking … When can staff say no? Nursing Management, 42(1), 40–44.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. The author of this article discusses an overarching problem many nurses experience on a daily basis: their inability to say ‘no’ to fulfilling tasks and responsibilities outside of the nursing role. The author highlights situations that can have legal ramifications, including overtime, taking on assignments outside of a nurse’s practice scope and skill level, provision of alternative care therapies, and inappropriate delegations.Matthews, J. (2010). When does delegating make you a supervisor? Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 15(2), 3.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.  This article reviews the impact on registered nurses of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In addition, it explores the exclusions of nurse managers during collective bargaining contracts and union organization.Neil, A., & Robinson, J. (2011). Making a union/management partnership really work. Nursing New Zealand, 17(11), 32–33.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. This article portrays an authentic example of how the Bay of Plenty District Health Board worked with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) union to increase the engagement of nurses while also improving the patient journey. By creating the joint action group (JAG), these leaders were able to reach their stated goals and to develop an effective plan for achieving future ideals.Porter, C. (2010). 

A nursing labor management partnership model. Journal of Nursing Administration, 40(6), 272–276.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. This article describes a partnership between clinical nurses and nursing management that was successfully implemented in a prominent teaching hospital.Sanders, L. G., & McCutcheon, A. W. (2010). 

Unions in the healthcare industry. Labor Law Journal, 61(3), 142–151. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. This article discusses the impact and importance of nursing unions in clinical settings. With a focus on Boston Medical Center Corp, the authors outline the many factors that affect labor unions in the health care industry.

NURS 6221: Managing Human Resources

Labor Relations: Case Studies

Directions: Select one case study for this week’s Discussion.

Case Study #1: The Saga of TrulyGood Hospital

Joan, Nurse Manager at TrulyGood Hospital had been having a hectic month. Performance appraisals for all 70 of her staff members were due the previous week and Joan had been spending an enormous amount of time writing and delivering them. Although it didn’t seem to be an unusual year, there seemed to be more “push back” from staff members when she shared their appraisals and a lot more negativity about the small salary increases this year. It hadn’t been that long since they had several layoffs, and she supposed people were still unhappy and nervous about the unstable job situation.

Joan hadn’t been as visible in her department for the last couple of weeks and was surprised at the grumbling she was hearing. As she was making rounds, she noticed Tim, one of the Emergency Department nurses, talking with several of her employees and handing out index cards. That’s curious, she thought, but before she could investigate, someone asked for her help and she was tied up for the next hour.

Later in the day, she stepped into the break room and noticed there was on the bulletin board an article about the successful union organizing election at a nearby hospital with a giant “WAY TO GO” written in red across the article. Who could have put that there, she wondered? Just as she was reaching for it, her phone rang and she spent the rest of the day at an unscheduled meeting to talk about problems with patients throughout the hospital.

Case Study #2: The Saga of Beneficent Hospital

Tom, the CEO of Beneficent Hospital, was driving home from a corporate system meeting feeling euphoric. The last quarter numbers were out, and his hospital was doing great with productivity and all of the other financial indicators. With the recent employee layoffs and cost-savings cuts that had been made, he was looking impressive compared to his colleagues throughout the system. In fact, the system President had made a point of using Tom as an example to the others about what could be done if they just “put their minds to it.” Things couldn’t be better, and he was in a hurry to get home and share the news with his wife.

He stopped at the hospital briefly to pick up a few things in his office. As he drove away from his personal parking space, he noticed a group of nurses at the front of the building talking with someone he didn’t recognize. “I wonder who that is?” Tom asked himself. The nurses seemed very interested in what the individual was telling them.

When Tom was making his rounds the next day, he noticed a distinct coolness in the greetings he was receiving. Staff members he normally found to be talkative seemed to avoid eye contact with him. Even when asked a direct questio