Both unionization and workplace advocacy assist nurses and guarantee an improved and safer environment. On the one hand, nurse professionals strive to advance their professional level and competence to increase quality standards at hospitals. On the other hand, health care workers stand for personal interests and defend their autonomy rights (Kelly, 2008). Despite certain similarities presented in the activities of unions and workplace advocacy organizations, there are distinct discrepancies that should be taken into consideration to avoid misconceptions. Specifically, unlike unions, workplace advocacy activities are directed at meeting common standards of professional competence, a safe working environment, and encouraging nurses to gain the necessary experience. In contrast, the process of unionization seeks to provide support to discontented groups. Unions are more directed at organizing nurses that are not satisfied with the policies introduced by a specific hospital, or nursing organization.
Workplace activities provide strategies for the general improvement of the working environment and enhancement of nurses’ professional level in general. At the same time, unionizing activities satisfy nurses’ personal needs and solve individual problems in case a workplace supporting organization does not meet nurses’ concerns. In this respect, unionizing activities are held outside the hospital to provide support for nurses from different hospitals (Benson, 2010, p. 298). The problem is that unions often deprive health care professionals of their autonomy rights and, as a result, they should support the policy of unionized representatives as well. In its turn, a workplace advocacy organization neglects personal concerns and strives to establish common criteria connected to a safer environment and more satisfied climate through activities that nurses should undertake to improve working conditions.
Unions are ready to support nurses’ rights to form organizations for collective bargaining whereas workplace advocacy representatives encourage nurses to represent themselves as highly competent professionals. In this respect, unions are formed to defend the right of nurses if the hospital fails to protect nurses’ individual rights. The unionized organizations imply that bargaining is often set by arbitration, but it does not presuppose negotiations to be established indefinitely (Sojourner et al., 2010). In this respect, workplace advocacy organizations are more concerned with the fundamental right of individuals for professional development and recognition. They also believe that nurses have the right to change job places for the purpose of enhancing their professional experience (Sojourner et al., 2010). Workplace advocacy activities, therefore, are directed at introducing the value of cultural and professional exchange.
Unlike workplace advocacy, unions are concerned with establishing favorable relationships between the nurse managers and their subordinates. However, unionized organizations pay more attention to the nurses’ rights rather than those of managers (Malvey, 2010, p. 236). Therefore, the process of unionization takes place only when there are constraints in establishing good relations with managers. In contrast, organizations monitoring the workplace welfare do not consider relationship management a priority. Instead, they participate in disputes as far as the nurses’ professional realization is concerned.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that union polices imply the protection of nurses’ personal rights in the workplace in case healthcare managers fail to meet their expectations. Workplace advocacy is more oriented on professional activities and, therefore, they create corresponding conditions for professional development and recognition. In this respect, unions pay attention to nurses’ personal needs, protecting their rights, and participate in disputes between managers and employees. Workplace advocacy organizations provide support to health care professionals to create a safe working environment and enhance the professional values of nurses.
Benson, H. (2010). Unionization of the Nurses in the U.S.: Worker Power, Autonomy, and Labor Democracy. Workingusa, 13(2), 297-307.
Kelly, P. (2008). Nursing leadership & management. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson-Delmar.