National Nurses United

RNs In Motion CNA-NNU

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Page 48 of 55

With a Union, You'll Never Go It Alone When there's a problem, you can solve it together as a group. Because you speak with one voice, you have a greater say in decisions that affect you and your patients. Working together, you can make your hospital a better place to work and receive care. With a CNA/NNU contract in place, you have new avenues for solving problems and making improve- ments every day. We emphasize using the collec- tive power of RNs in our facilities over individual representational methods, including creating strong effective Nurse Representative/Shop Steward Coun- cils and Professional Practice Committees (PPCs). This is an important shift away from a legalistic grievance-filing model and toward an organiz- ing model that gets problems resolved early and through group action of nurses. When we organize over issues in the workplace, usually we are fighting to enforce the contract and other times we fight for things that may not be explicitly covered in the contract, but are issues RNs care about. As you become more organized and more accustomed to these sorts of activities, you may find that more and more problems can be resolved without resorting to formal grievances. Your Contract The contract is a kind of historical record of the achievements of the RNs in your facility. It institutionalizes the victories of the past, and establishes the minimum that you can expect from your employer. It is a mistake, however, to view the contract as a lifeless document. In the hands of a good nurse representative/shop steward, it is inter- preted creatively in the interests of the members. The contract itself is only so many words unless RNs are willing to stand up for our rights. Whom Should You Call? Often there is confusion regarding the difference between the role of the nurse representative/shop steward and that of the PPC. This is not surprising because often the issues they address overlap. » The nurse representative/shop steward primarily deals with contractual problems. » The PPC primarily deals with practice problems. It is important for the nurse representative/shop steward to maintain frequent contact with the PPC. Problems that are not clearly grievable may be sub- jects for the PPC. Problems such as excess floating, overtime, stand-by and call-back time, or frequently changed schedules are often indicative of staffing problems. The PPC should be aware of these so that the broader issues can be investigated. Conversely, practice issues such as safety hazards may be con- tractual or legal problems. Workplace Issues The Organizing Model in Your Facility 49 A SHORT QUIZ There's a problem in your hospital. Perhaps it's a chronic short-staffing issue affecting your entire unit or a written warning you have received from your manager. What do you do first? a) Organize a delegation of nurses to your CNO b) Start a petition c) File a grievance d) Contact your nurse rep/steward Correct answer: d) Contact your nurse rep/steward While you may end up doing any number of the above actions, the first step is to talk to your nurse representative/shop steward. The nurse representative/shop steward is part of a network of NNOC RN leaders in your facility called the Nurse Representative/Shop Steward Council. They have the overview and knowl- edge of facility-wide issues and concerns that will determine the best approach to solving the problem.

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