Our recent discussions about schedules might illustrate my point.
We discussed the process for filling open shifts after a schedule is posted. The hospital proposed that if several people volunteered for the same shift then it would go to the most senior person.
I don't pick up many open shifts, just don't have the time. Also,in my department there are so many open shifts that they regularly go unfilled. So to me, this seemed like an idea that would work.
As usual, we took a break to talk it over and I found out that in some departments this would create problems. Certain shifts are preferred and they are filled on a rotating basis so that one person doesn't always get the prime shifts. Relying solely on seniority in these departments would decrease retention of junior nurses, something none of us wants.
We're still working with management on this.
This brings up a larger issue. How do we know what is important to 450 different nurses?
This summer we filled out surveys on what was important to us both in paper form and on line. We have open negotiations and have great conversations with all those who can make it and we meet for updates from time to time in conference room 1 at the hospital. These surveys and conversations, and all the conversations we have in the cafeteria, in the hallways, on the shuttle bus, etc. help keep us all connected and on the same page.
It's also helpful to once in a while do a more formal polling of everyone.
Recently we hired a polling group, Benchmark Polling, to conduct an independent telephone poll of our members to gage their feelings.
172 nurses were reached over 4 days of polling. Normally 10% is considered a large group for statistical accuracy, we had 48%.
Several questions and answers stand out to me.
Have you followed negotiations between the Hospital and the Union?
91% said Yes.
Have you read any of the newsletters/contract updates distributed by the Union?
91% said Yes.
Do you support the current Hospital paid for performance wage system?
11% said Yes.
Do you support the Union's proposal of a wage scale that includes step increases upon a successful yearly evaluation over the current Hospital system?
87% said Yes.
Do you believe the Hospital has bargained fairly?
13% said Yes.
Do you believe the Union's bargaining team has acted in member's best interest?
87% said Yes.
Do you believe the Union has kept members informed?
88% said Yes.
When asked what they would do to help secure a fair contract, 6 of 10 nurses said they would join a rally in front of the hospital.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of the entire poll at work or at one of our negotiations, the next negotiations are next Tuesday the 24th and Thursday the 26th at the Courtyard in Norwich. We will also get it posted on our web page Backusunited.org.
Many of us work a full shift, go home and care of children or older parents, deal with mortgages and other bills, in short, we are very busy. And yet, the poll shows we are staying informed and engaged in the process. That's wonderful! This is our union.
The results of the poll are encouraging, they show we are on the right tract.
I have said this before. The journey may be long but we'll get there, together.