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Face Employer Acquire Respect

Fear: an unpleasant feeling of apprehension or distress caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.

We have all experienced fear throughout the course of our lives. Some of us face our fears head on and do not let them consume our lives. Some of us let fear overwhelm our lives and infringe on our daily routines. Sometimes our fears are so strong that it requires people to seek medical intervention. We would not be human if we were not fearful of things that happen in our lives. It is what we do with those fears that ultimately determine how it affects our lives.

Fear plays a significant role in a nurse’s life. Fear of caring for your first patient in nursing school. Fear of giving your first injection. Fear of your instructors. Fear of taking your licensing boards. Fear of your first day as a full-fledged registered nurse. Fear of your first day in charge. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of not having enough staff. Fear of speaking up for your nursing practice and working conditions. Fear of organizing a union.

Every day nurses face these and numerous other fears in the work place. These situations cause apprehension and anxiety. It is how a nurse handles this fear that ultimately helps her overcome her anxiety and apprehension over the day- to- day situations that arise in the work place.

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Rosa Parks

Over time, nurses develop the critical thinking skills necessary to face patient care problems that cause them to be apprehensive and fearful. Through experience and with the support of mentors, nurses conquer their anxieties about giving new medications, dealing with changes in a patient’s condition and taking charge. Experience gives nurses the knowledge and skills to see what needs to be done and do it. There is not enough time to let fear overcome you when your patient is crashing. You have to act and you learn by doing. Eventually the apprehension diminishes.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nurses who have formed a union in their workplace know the initial fear, apprehension, and anxiety that comes with the process. They learned early on that in order to be successful at obtaining a legally protected voice for their nursing practice and working conditions they would have to stand together to face down the employer’s anti-union campaign. They did not let fear and intimidation stop them from doing what they felt was right in order to protect their patients and their nursing practice. Yes, they were scared but they understood that organizing a union in their workplace was the most professional thing they could do to insure the safety of their patients and their nursing practice. They overcame the fear. They organized a union.

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.” Eric Hoffer

In non-unionized facilities both the nurses and the employer are fearful of any attempt to organize a union at their facility, but for very different reasons. The employer’s fear is very simple: The employer does not want nurses to have a seat at the table or an equal say in their working conditions. The employer wants to maintain the power of unilateral decision making. The employer does not want to lose the power they have to change policies and benefits at a moments notice. That is why employers will spend millions of dollars on anti-union consultants and campaigns.

Nurses’ fears are different. Nurses are fearful of losing their jobs in their attempt at organizing a union in their workplace. Nurses are faced with an employer’s attempt to intimidate them through captive audience meetings and aggressive middle management coercion. Managers will be required to conduct one-on-one anti-union meetings telling nurses they will lose their flexibility in scheduling, that nurses will be unable to have a say in staffing and patient care, and that they will have no power in negotiating their own contract. All of which are untrue.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Andrew Carnegie

Nurses who work under conditions that are detrimental to the safe care of their patients and their practice really have only a few choices. They can decide to stay and continue to work under the present conditions, placing their patients and licenses at risk and letting management make all of the decisions. They can leave and go work someplace else or they can stay and help build a union.
Nurses who have organized a union will tell you that, yes, it is hard work. But by building unity and working together they were able to face the fears and apprehensions of management’s intimidation schemes. If you are tired of struggling to give your patients the safe care they deserve, if you are tired of unfair working conditions, or if you are tired of putting your license on the line then you need to go out and get busy. Unity and strength can only be gained by talking to each other and forming a strong, unified front.

“We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
If your hope is to have a legally protected voice in your facility, then you have to commit to forming a union. Yes, it takes work. But with a unified front you will make it known that you are serious about the effort to unionize. More importantly, the more upfront and unified you are the easier it will be to send a message to management that you are taking a stand to protect your patients and your practice.

If your hope is to have a say in how you care for your patients, then you need to work with your colleagues to build unity and strength. If your hope is to have a say in how you practice your profession, then you need to face those apprehensions and anxieties and form a union. 23,000 other registered nurses and health care professionals have taken that step. Why not join them?

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