Union members have several different tools to use to ensure they have the best opportunity to provide quality services. The collective bargaining agreement (contract) and the grievance process are just two of them. We have filed and won many grievances in the past and continue to support the rights of members to challenge any decision or discipline they believe to be unfair.
- Sick Building Syndrome: Several nurses working in Pre-Op pre-screening rooms were getting sick due to air quality issues in what was intended to be a temporary workspace (commonly referred to as “the sick rooms”). These workspaces had become more or less permanent for these nurses and the air quality issues were not improving on their own. After filing an official grievance, and after many months of organizing, the affected nurses were finally provided with an alternate room in which to conduct their pre-screening calls, and have been ensured that a new workspace is on track; construction of which is currently going forward as planned.
- Shep 5 Nurses spent two years organizing around staffing issues in their unit. At the end of June 2012, the nurses finally won what they had been fighting so hard for, including changes in staffing and management. The department manager no longer posts holes above PARS, and has been working with the scheduling committee, made up of Shep 5 RNs, to ensure that each schedule has the appropriate number of nurses to meet their staffing needs. In addition, the nurses were also able to add new FTEs to their unit to accommodate the new scheduling practices.
- An Ambulatory RN recently won a grievance she filed when she was denied a promotion from RN II to RN III due to having discipline in her file, despite having fulfilled all of the requirements outlined in their negotiated clinical ladder. She has since received her hard-earned salary increase and nine months of back pay!
- We have reduced and/or removed unjust discipline from members' files, and have won members' jobs back after they have been unjustly terminated.
Other Important Victories
In addition to making improvements through the grievance process, VFNHP has made significant improvements through the power of solidarity. Like AFT, VFNHP is a strong organizing union. In other words, in addition to typical union servicing work, we know that our strength and success comes from all of us working together in solidarity.
Under the Bush administration, in 2006 the NLRB classified many nurses as "supervisors" if they simply exercise the most basic independent judgment in the course of their duties. "Supervisors" don't have the protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act to form and join unions. To undercut union organizing drives, employers often try to classify workers as supervisors so they can't be part of the group that has the right to vote in a union representation election.
VFHNP organized against this clear attack on union member’s rights, and we won an agreement in our 2006 contract that ensures that bargaining unit members do not lose their union membership if the hospital assigns them supervisory duties as defined by the National Labor Relations Board.