Voluntary Wage Discrimination

Should one worker be able to outbid another worker for the same job with a lower wage? The question lies at the heart of the moral argument against minimum wage laws. Although most people would respond with a simple yes, minimum wage laws prevent workers from doing exactly that.

With the nationwide shortage of nursing staff, the Nashoba Valley Medical Center has implemented an "eShift" system by which nurses can bid on open shifts online. Nurses can better act on their preferences for working particular shifts and can gain flexibility in planning their lives away from work. The hospital can save money to better manage the staff shortage.

"I really like this system because I have a very busy lifestyle and it gives me flexibility," said Arsenault, 26.

Gill, 29, said she sees the setup as a "win-win situation. The hospital gets nurses to fill open slots and nurses get extra work and extra pay."

Polley, 43, said he often seeks work on his off-days because "of a son who's starting college."

Who would complain about this? The Massachusetts Nursing Association.

"This is a Band-Aid approach to the nursing shortage, a way to get nurses to work for the lowest dollars. So, our union nurses wouldn't accept it," asserted David Schildmeier, spokesman for the association, which he said represents nurses working for 65 percent of the state's acute-care hospitals.

Though they have not yet pushed for changes that legally prevent the bidding for shifts, the sentiment expressed is clear: one worker should not be able to compete with another worker.

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Jonathan, This sounds like a

Jonathan,

This sounds like a wonderful plan with great possibility! I'm taking this article to my next administration meeting.

I believe the Unions had their day, but, like most things -- that day has come and gone. Nurses have witnessed the closure of hospitals across the country, and the closing of maternity units, surgical wings -- nurses have to either decide to become a part of the solution to the shortage, or watch the profession end as we know it.

Diana