Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa is a unionized hospital, while Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines is a non-union facility. Both facilities strive to give its patients excellent care but the working conditions vary somewhat due to the difference between a union and non-union facility. From Mary Greeley’s I interviewed Mrs. Lorna Hamilton, the Emergency/Security Management Coordinator and from the Iowa Lutheran Hospital I interviewed Mr. Jeffrey L. Bebensee, the Security Manager. Both managers were familiar with the labor unions effect on their workplaces.
Lorna from the Mary Greeley Medical Center has been with the hospital for 14 years and works in management. The hospital has been unionized since before she started in 1998. She thought the date that the hospital unionized was in 1986, but was unsure. Mary Greeley nurse’s decided to unionize when management wouldn’t take requests for pay raises and staffing requirements seriously. After the union became part of the workplace pay and benefits both improved, and there were requirements made about how many nurses needed to be staffed in each department.
Also, the union worked towards a safer work environment for the nurses employed at Mary Greeley’s. Jeff from Iowa Lutheran Hospital has been with the hospital for 24 years and the facilities have been union-free for the entire time. Jeff has relatively negative feelings towards unions and works on the management side of the hospital. He notes that working conditions are very comparable to a unionized hospital and pay and benefits are also. When asked about relationships between nurses and employees he said, “I think there is a separation, them against us, whenever there is a management/ employee set-up.
It doesn’t matter if there is a union or not. ” He also noted that he would think the separation would be more-so at a non-union facility because the management doesn’t have to be “fair”, they could fire you without going through any steps. Relationships between nurses and management at Mary Greeley’s are sometimes stressed, but friendly. Lorna makes note that day to day operations are no problem, but if there is a grievance or an employee fired it tends to rub everyone the wrong way and everyone seems to be “on their toes”.
Management tends to talk about the union nurses as “the enemy” as she is sure the nurses refer to management in the same way. “It definitely has a them against us feeling when shit hits the fan,” as Lorna put it. But she noted that those instances are few and far between. Daily working conditions are friendly. Lorna also attributes those working conditions partly to the union, since they fought for fair work-loads and safe conditions without which the working conditions would be a more hostile place.
Working conditions at Iowa Lutheran Hospital are comparable to any other hospital, it is a friendly atmosphere, with adequate staffing. Jeff noted that if there is ever complaint it is between the working and the manager and doesn’t go much further. If the manager doesn’t do a satisfactory job solving the employee’s problem it get escalated to the next supervisor, but never involves other employees. Within Jeff’s hospital it is confidential what your paycheck says and if you have any problems with your work environment.
Lorna did not have any comments on how the unionized company affected the non-union companies, but Jeff did have many observations. He noted, “The threat of unionization is as big of an influence as a union could be. ” Having unionized hospitals around the area has raised the wages and benefits for the nurses at non-union hospitals. When unions came to the area hospitals it really had a positive effect for all the local hospital employees.
The management at these facilities fears the union enough to give employees the benefits of having a union without the power of the union. The nurses from Iowa Lutheran Hospital haven’t ever tried to unionize, but there have been sporadic rumors going around in the past about unionizing. Like I quoted him before, to keep the union out of the hospital management would give in to many rational requests that he feels the nurses would obtain if they did unionize. Sources: Unionized hospital. Emergency/Security Management Coordinator
Mary Greeley Medical Center Bebensee, J. (2012, June 26). Interview by A. Bonney [Personal Interview]. Non-union hospital. Jeffrey L. Bebensee Security Manager Iowa Lutheran Hospital (515) 263-5612 The American Nurses Association, Inc. (2012). Iowa nurses association. Retrieved from http://www. nursingworld. org/FunctionalMenuCategories/AboutANA/WhoWeAre/CMA/INA. aspx Unions. org. (2012). American nurses association. Retrieved from http://www. unions. org/unions/iowa/15/american-nurses-association/61