Registered nurse and SEIU member Fredo Serrano of Las Vegas pens an op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Serrano takes on some basic assumptions about unions and the impact unionization has on businesses, making a powerful case for passing strong Free Choice legislation to help workers continue to grow the economy.
I’m an operating room registered nurse at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. Shortly after I came to Sunrise Hospital 13 years ago, my co-workers and I came together to form a union. Unlike the vast majority of employees who seek to form a union in their workplaces, we were ultimately able to negotiate free and fair conduct guidelines for the campaign.
Under current law, employers can demand an election process wherein, according to research, 91 percent of employers force employees to attend intimidating one-on-one meetings with their supervisors, and 30 percent unlawfully fire workers who support forming a union.
Because of our landmark agreement with HCA, we saw none of these tactics. It was a positive experience for management, staff, and the patients whose care was never disrupted. But unfortunately, the free and fair election at my hospital was a special exception to a broken rule. The Employee Free Choice Act will guarantee the basic right to a free choice like I had to employees everywhere. …
Having a union has made a dramatic difference in our lives. Before we united under the Service Employees International Union, the health plan available to hospital employees was too expensive for many ancillary staff to afford, meaning that dozens of the people working in the hospital did not have health care themselves. Today, we all have access to employer-provided health care for ourselves and our families. We’ve negotiated a pay scale to attract and retain high-quality and experienced caregivers. Nationwide, workers in unions earn 30 percent higher wages on average and are 59 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage.
And we’ve ensured that registered nurses and other direct care providers have the ongoing training and education we need to provide the highest quality care.
Wal-Mart’s Lee Scott and his corporate allies want us to believe that giving workers a seat at the table and a hand on the steering wheel will lead to them running the ship aground. But my experience at Sunrise has proved just the opposite.