Alert! Are unions attempting to leverage COVID 19 in their favor? Here is what we know and what you can do about it.

by Lori King

We are hearing (and seeing) unions taking advantage of the current COVID 19 crisis.

In typical fashion, aggressive unions like National Nurses United are attempting to leverage this situation to create disruption and organize anywhere they can.

The union is creating new state and national based COVID 19 Facebook groups to collect nurse information for their messaging and to collect organizing contacts. They have also created a national survey and petition- both which require nurses to provide powerful organizing information including their name, employer, specialty, email, and phone.

Additionally, employers with bargaining agreement in place, should be aware that unions may be requesting “effects bargaining” over decisions which hospitals legally and contractually permitted to make in quick response and preparation for what may be ahead with the COVID 19 impact. The union may argue such things need to be negotiated.

This is nothing new. It is also not where nurses want to spend their time. Nurses are busy focusing on planning and preparing for what we are experiencing and the potential of what the future may bring.

Sure, there are a few nurses who would rather blame and point fingers at issues rather than be part of a solution- but by and large this is NOT the nurses’ nature and NOT the natural approach for individuals who have dedicated their careers to caring for others.

Here’s what employers can do if you are feeling the negative pressures of ill-intended union activity like those demonstrated by the National Nurses United.

Practice, remind, and re-enforce the importance of approachability with your leadership. Now, more than ever, is the most opportune time for leaders to be practicing the principles of approachability. To both gain greater connections with individuals and to strengthen their teams.

Here are some simple and practical tips that we recommend adding to your daily leadership tool box. Share these with your leadership team and lead by example:

  • Listen like you mean it! You may not have all the answers, or even the answer they want to hear. Just feeling heard goes a very long way- then you can work together to find solutions
  • Run to the smoke! Don’t ignore the signs that someone has an issue. If you suspect someone has a concern, go ask them. Round regularly and be physically present.

You can then go a step further and get the smoke running to you. In times like these, you can’t be present all the time. Let your people know you want to hear from them and how best to reach you.

  • “Is there anything else?” At the end of conversations, always ask if there is anything else on their mind. This sends the clear message that you care. Again, you may not have all the answers, but your people will know you care about what’s on their mind.

There is amazing goodness rising from this unprecedented time. Companies like Home Depot, Humana, and Johnson and Johnson are stepping up. We see individuals reaching out to help and support one another and we see innovation occurring before our eyes by those who are driven to contribute the solutions that are so desperately needed. See here

We are reading comments like “We are in this together” and social distancing comments such as “not just for yourself, but for the safety of those who are most vulnerable.” Then there are Facebook posts stating, “If anyone one needs something, PM me and I am here for you.”

Leverage this time to counter aggressive unions who are being socially irresponsible by attacking employers and blaming the system. Connect with the individuals in your organizations and let them know your organization is their home away from home and that you are all on the same team.

Treat your employees like family and let them know how much you care for them through the practice of approachable leadership. Organizations that practice approachability- especially during this time- will come through this crisis as a much stronger, more connected team!