- Executive Board Meeting
- Executive Board will meet at OFNHP office, 2045 SE Ankeny. ........ read more
- CPK Contract Drop & Site Visit
- OFNHP Leadership to visit CPK campus to drop off new ........ read more
- Call Center Steward Council
- Fourth Wednesdays Noon-4pm EIN LLA ........ read more
Click Here for Full Calendar of Events
Union members earn better wages and benefits than workers who aren’t union members. On average, union workers’ wages are 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. While only 14 percent of nonunion workers have guaranteed pensions, fully 68 percent of union workers do. More than 97 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but only 85 percent of nonunion workers do. Unions help employers create a more stable, productive workforce—where workers have a say in improving their jobs. (source AFL-CIO web site 2009)
Why do healthcare workers need a union?
Today more than ever, healthcare workers need a strong union like OFNHP. Skilled healthcare worker shortages and the rise of healthcare for profit have dramatically changed RNs’ and other healthcare workers' work environments and the demands placed on them. Too many nurses are spending too much time on non-nurse duties. Too many nurses are enduring too much overtime. And too many nurses are working under conditions that are unsafe for themselves and their patients.
The solution? A strong, unified workforce is the best solution to the problems facing healthcare workers and their patients today. When workers become members of OFNHP, they gain the ability to negotiate enforceable contracts that spell out specific working conditions such as acceptable nurse-patient ratios, what roles RNs will play in determining standards of care, circumstances under which RNs will agree to work overtime, pay scales, benefits, dependable procedures for scheduling vacations and other time off, and all other conditions important to nurses.
Joining OFNHP also adds your voice to our efforts to enact better laws regulating hospitals and other healthcare environments, and to create government-funded programs to fund and encourage nursing education.
Can I be penalized for joining a union?
Many employees are afraid to raise the idea of joining a union. Many people believe they can be fired for trying to unionize. While this is understandable, it is also false. Both state and federal laws guarantee the right to unionize and the right to negotiate an enforceable contract. In fact, it is illegal for your employer to interfere in your efforts to unionize. Employees working for both public and private employers have the right to organize and join a union. OFNHP represents 3,000 RNs and Health Professionals who work at Providence Milwaukie Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region.
Specifically, you have the right to:
- Organize with your colleagues
- Select a union to join
- Negotiate collectively with your employer
- Enforce your contract through a grievance process spelled out in the contract
Contract violations are not tolerated. OFNHP members’ contracts are enforced by grievance committees formed by their colleagues with professional assistance and training from OFNHP staff. Representatives are available to provide assistance on a regular basis.
Organizing your colleagues to join a union takes time, patience, and determination. But it’s worth it. Joining a union gives you a voice in the decision-making process that directly affects you as an employee. Through that organized voice, you can also exert considerable influence over the quality of care you are able to give your patients.
What is collective bargaining?
Through collective bargaining, a team of union representatives and union members negotiate with an employer, such as a hospital, important terms and conditions of employment. These terms and conditions may include pay scales, benefits. acceptable nurse-patient ratios, what roles RNs will play in determining standards of care, circumstances under which RNs will agree to work overtime, dependable procedures for scheduling vacations and other time off, and all other conditions important to nurses. When negotiation is completed and agreement is reach, the terms and conditions are spelled out in a contract. All workers who would be covered under the contract – for example, all RNs employed at a particular hospital – vote on whether or not to ratify the contract. Once a contract has been ratified by a majority of employees, it is a binding agreement that governs both employers and employees.
With a contract in place, violations of the working terms and conditions it binds the employer to can be addressed through a grievance procedure, through labor-management meetings, and through other avenues, including legally-binding arbitration. Arbitration decisions can be enforced by court orders, if necessary.
How does a union improve staffing and patient care?
As the healthcare industry continues to face cost-cutting pressures, it will take time and a combination of union contract bargaining, consumer action, and legislative measures to put patient care concerns back on the right track.
Unions really can improve staffing and workload situations and OFNHP members have negotiated a variety of ways to address these issues. We work to:
Set minimum staffing standards limiting how many patients employees must care for in a particular area on a particular shift.
Create labor-management committees through which employees make joint decisions with administrators about staffing guidelines.
Restrict mandatory overtime to protect employees and ensure the highest quality patient care.
Create guidelines for floating and other practices to ensure that employees are able to provide the best possible care to their patients, and to do so under conditions for which they were properly trained.
Improve recruitment and retention programs that focus on benefits, salaries, patient care, and working conditions in order to attract and retain the best qualified staff.