The California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses United (NNU) want to represent you for the purpose of collective bargaining.
I have no desire to join the union – is it important that I still vote?
Fortunately, this important decision is yours to make, with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) affording you that protected right through a secret ballot election. We strongly encourage you to vote, because if the union is elected, everyone – including non-voters – will be represented by the CNA/NNU and governed by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA/contract).
Not voting is a vote for the union. Why? Because the union wins with only a simple majority of votes that are actually cast. A small but vocal minority could control the fate of all. Again, we strongly encourage all eligible voters to vote.
I already signed a union card or a petition – can I still vote against the union?
Yes, you can. Who signed and who did not sign has nothing to do with the vote. If you already signed a union card or a petition, you are still free to vote “no” if you choose. Similarly, if you did not sign a union card or petition, you still possess the right to vote in the election. This is a secret ballot election, so the only way anyone will know how you voted is if you tell someone.
What am I voting for on Election Day?
There is only one question to be decided on Election Day – “Do you wish to be represented by the CNA/NNU for the purposes of collective bargaining?”
Contrary to what you may have been told, you are not voting for better:
- working conditions,
- a voice in how the hospital operates,
…and you are not voting better for patient care. Patient care is not a term or condition of employment. Therefore, it is not a subject of bargaining.
To “represent” means to “speak for you at the bargaining table,” nothing more. Nonetheless, as union members, you will be legally bound to any contract that is agreed upon whether you personally agree with it or not.
What are the potential consequences of entering into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the CNA/NNU?
Collective bargaining between the employer and the union is not a one-way street, and its results may not be in your personal best interests, with potential detrimental effects on wages and benefits. A final contract will clearly outline your working arrangements, and you must follow them even if they do not meet your schedule – no exceptions, special arrangements, flexibility, or options. Finally, the union may decide to strike during the negotiations process.
The union guaranteed me that a CBA will include improvements to my pay and benefits. Can they really guarantee me that?
- The law requires the hospital to bargain in good faith with the union over the terms and conditions of employment.
- The law does not compel the hospital to agree to the union’s demands. The duty to bargain is the duty to talk, not to agree. Therefore, any guarantees of increased wages and/or benefits made by union representatives before a final contract are merely hopes and dreams.
- For the same reasons, the union can promise, but cannot guarantee, that a contract will not include reductions in employee pay and benefits.
- Wages and benefits can increase or decrease depending upon the issues to be negotiated, and the needs of each party.
If the union wins, how long does it take to reach an agreed upon CBA?
- Bargaining between the parties may not start for weeks or months subsequent to the election being certified, and since the law does not compel agreements between the parties, there is no set time limit on when a CBA must be agreed upon.
- A contract might not be agreed upon for months, years, or never.
- However, during the time period between certification and the first contract, changes to wage and benefit levels will be on hold.
Does the union have the power to force the hospital to accept its demands?
No – both parties may talk indefinitely. The union has the option of: backing down and taking the employer’s offer; walking away; or going on strike.
Can the union, through negotiations, determine how the hospital is operated?
- Even with an agreement, operational control stays in management’s hands.
- The law only requires bargaining over wages, hours, and terms of employment. All operational and managerial decisions remain with the hospital.
- The CNA/NNU is promising staffing ratios. That is a subject of bargaining. Patient care decisions remain in the hands of management…union or not!
Is it likely that the union will go on strike?
Who knows? You must prepare for the possibility.
During negotiations, the only avenue of pressure a union can exert on the hospital is to convince their members to strike. In fact, the union can require its members to support a strike. Without the threat of a strike, the union loses its leverage at the bargaining table. Regardless of promises to the contrary, a strike is always a viable option for the union. What kind of union gives away their most effective bargaining weapon?
What are the consequences if I go out on strike?
- No pay,
- no benefits,
- healthcare coverage stops,
- no guarantee of retroactivity,
- no food stamps,
- no guarantee of unemployment compensation,
The law permits employers to hire permanent replacements for employees who are out on an economic strike. These newly hired replacements may keep your jobs.
What are the consequences if I don’t go out on strike?
If you don’t strike: the union may fine you (per union constitution and bylaws); other union members may threaten you; you may face retaliation from your co-workers when the strike is over and your fellow employees return to work.