Bean's World

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nurses on Strike!

So I just finished a three day stretch of working. Since I work twelve hour shifts, my working days consist of waking up, showering, eating, working, coming home, and sleeping. Multiply that times three, and you have my weekend. Plus, I was scheduled for the ever-so-lucky Saturday night shift, during which I got to live the hours of 2am to 3am twice. Therefore, by default I got to work an extra hour that night. Yippee. Actually it wasn't so bad. In fact, Brigham and Women's is in many ways, the best hospital I've ever worked at.

Unfortunately, the permanent nursing staff of "the Brigham" (that's what the locals call it) do not agree with me. It recently came to my attention that 1,000 nurses had a union demonstration the Thursday before my contract started. Funny how nobody told me that until after I had already started working. So from what I can tell, they are pissed about inadequate staffing (well, duh, there's a nationwide nursing shortage), and they don't think their yearly raise is enough. All I have to say is, how about you guys try working in the ATL.

Let me put it into perspective for you. The unit that I am working on right now is apparently one of the hardest and most dreaded units to work on. (This information I recieved from one of the nurses in the float pool. Float pool nurses can work on any unit in the hospital, so you know they probably have a pretty good idea of what the "good" vs. the "bad" units are.) And as I said before, so far, this has been the best place I have ever worked. Our unit has awesome staffing ratios. We get a minimum of 8 nurses for a 10 bed unit. So 6 nurses only have one patient, and 2 nurses have 2 patients. I'm used to working in ICU's where the only way you don't have 2 patients is if you transfer one of them to another floor. And then, you have 1 patient for an hour or two, until you have to admit a new one (very time consuming). Granted, the majority of our patients are very sick and complicated cases. And whenever you do have 2 patients, it's an extremely busy night. But still, I am sooo not complaining.

In addition, the south is notorious for having the lowest pay wages for nurses in the country. (Just another reason why I decided to start travel nursing.) My job in Boston is paying me 33% more money than my previous contract in Atlanta. One of the permanent staff nurses that I work with even said herself that they've been getting a 5% pay increase every year. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Maybe I don't know much about how this whole union thing works since we don't have a nurses union in Georgia. Maybe they threaten this every year. And maybe I've only worked there two weeks so I don't know the whole story. All I know is, as far as I can tell, this hospital is run like a well-oiled machine. But without nurses to work it, they are so going to be screwed. Not only that, I am going to be screwed, because I will still have to work!

Note to self: call recruiter stat to find out what happens to me if these nurses really do go on strike.


  • I don't know if things are vastly different in the corporate world or other occupational environments, but in my limited experience working with union contracts a 16% raise is completely unheard of.

    By Blogger Dave, At 10/31/06, 11:27 AM  

  • Unions were born in this country as a protective measure for working people back when the Federal government didn't have labor laws in place to do so. As far as I've seen in my lifetime, unions pretty much exist these days to clog up an otherwise well organized labor system with unrealistic wage demands based soley on the fact that they can walk out if they don't get what they want. It's like belonging to a club of bratty five year olds. Just look at the airline industry.

    Not to babble, this is a very good blog, bean, I very much enjoy reading it. Glad you're happy in Boston.

    By Blogger Captain, At 10/31/06, 3:09 PM  

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