Two sides to the value of unions

Updated 1/29/2018 5:01 PM

I am a retired RN who practiced for 36 years. Except for 15 months as a case manager for a home health company, I worked in ICUs except for two years as a post ICU unit manager. The last 24 years in the hospital setting was in a unionized hospital.

There is no doubt that I would not have the benefits I did have were it not for the union. I was protected by the union when denied due process to the extent that the issue was dropped basically as soon as I announced my intent to launch a protest through the union. This would not have happened in a private institution, because I would have had no voice and no real recourse.

Sorry, folks, but life is not fair. Actions can and are taken against someone for purely personal reasons. There has to be a unified voice with organization and structure to balance the playing field, at least at times.

However, there is another side, too.

The unions can protect some people who frankly should be disciplined or just fired. I have seen some employees work the system all too well, get to the edge of dismissal, then adjust their behavior until the disciplinary process has run its course and with no new infractions the slate is wiped clean and they are free to start their toxic behavior all over again. In the private sector, any manager worth their salt would have the ability to dismiss such people and would be justified in doing so. In unionized settings its very hard.

Will things ever change? I doubt it. However, we had some prosperous times, too, and those coincided when people on both sides are willing to listen and compromise. Listening and compromising seem to have become a lost art and have been replaced by endless bickering.

That we have down. Glad I'm retired.

Lawrence Kopp


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