A labor union is an organization of workers that is formed to protect and advocate for its members’ interests. Most often, this advocacy takes the form of collective bargaining aimed at improving employees’ wages, hours, working conditions and benefits. There is no single labor union that represents nurses across the nation. Most unions charge membership dues. A union has the power to negotiate contracts that identify working conditions, such as acceptable nurse-to-patient ratios, health and safety in the workplace, training, pay and wages, hours and overtime, benefits, procedures for time off.
Collective bargaining consists of the process of negotiation between representatives of a union and employers in reference to the terms and conditions of employment of employees, such as wages, hours of work, training, working conditions, health and safety, and about the rights/responsibilities of trade unions.
To gain better working conditions, unions may go on strike as a tool for union negotiation with hospital organizations. However, if a union decides to go on strike, many nurses are not only faced with losing significant wages during the strike, but also they may be faced with their own personal ethical dilemma of leaving their patients. Patient outcomes significantly decline during a nursing strike and the cost to the organization may be detrimental.
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