Nursing union reps when a situation occurs in the workplace give nurses advice and counseling on how to proceed based on the collective bargaining agreement. IMHO there is a thin line between giving legal advice and counseling and instructing a nurse how to proceed under a collective bargaining agreement in a workplace situation or incident. But that's just me. Maybe I am paranoid because instead of "I see dead people", I see people practicing law without a license. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sixth_Sense
I am working with a nurse who was given very bad advice by a nursing union representative (who is not an attorney of course) at a hospital and this advice will have workplace, employment, and licensure implications for the nurse. The nurse is very upset because she trusted her union rep. She has also tried to contact the union president repeatedly and has not received a return phone call.
The practice of nursing in healthcare which is one of the most highly regulated fields is becoming more complex with the interplay of civil, criminal, administrative, licensure, professional practice, clinical, credentialing, malpractice, employment, labor, collective bargaining, and workplace issues.
Nurses there is no substitute for legal advice from an attorney and in my opinion, nursing unions should hire an attorney (law school graduate who is licensed to practice law in the state) to work with the local unions, union officers and representatives in a particular facility to make sure nurses are being counseled and advised properly pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement during the grievance process.
For example, the Ohio Nurses Association has Labor Relations Specialists who are licensed attorneys who are very involved with working with union officers and representatives in the collective bargaining and grievance process. The attorneys don't represent the individual nurse, the attorneys represent the union in the grievance process but its still solid counseling and advising for the nurse related to the workplace issue. The Labor Relation Specialist can then say "hey you might need to speak with your own attorney about this or that." This nurse is not being represented by the Ohio Nurses Association union because honestly if she was the situation would have been handled properly.
Just my two cents but nursing unions are fighting to organize nurses and doing cartwheels explaining the benefits of union representation in the nursing workplace. That's fine and dandy and peachy and creamy but hire attorneys and assign attorneys to work with and counsel and advise the local unit officers and reps who then work with the individuals nurses in a specific hospital, nursing home, home care agency, etc.
Yes it costs money to hire licensed attorneys and yes it can be expensive but this is why nurses are paying union dues right? If you are going to administer a collective bargaining agreement and you purport to represent the nurses in a given workplace pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, then hire the attorneys you need to perform the triage on the frontlines in the battlefield.