Questions & Answers About Striking

Why are we considering a strike?

Our SEIU Local 121RN Bargaining Team has been in negotiations since October 2013 with HPMC. HPMC has not moved on our patient and nurse safety issues or responded to our economic concerns. They say they “hear us” but come back with proposals that raise costs for employees and do not address the difficult working conditions in the hospital.

Do I have to Strike?

The expectation is that you will honor the picket line.

Can I be fired for going on Strike?

No. California law recognizes the right to strike by Union healthcare workers.

Are 90-day probationary RNs expected to strike?

Even though federal law protects all striking workers, because probationary employees can be let go with no explanation required, we do not recommend that probationary employees participate in a strike.

Will my patients be safe and taken care of if I strike?

The law requires that we give the hospital 10 days notice before we strike. This will give the hospital ample time to hire temporary RNs. Your patients will be cared for by fully licensed RNs at normal staffing levels as required by California state nurse-to-patient ratio laws.

Will I be covered by my health insurance during the Strike?

Your health insurance premium is paid at the beginning of the month and remains in effect all month.

Will I be paid for picketing?

No. We all must prepare to sacrifice a little to gain a fair contract.

I have surgery scheduled, can I use sick leave? Or, I’m getting married, can I use my vacation time?

Generally, you cannot use sick leave or vacation while on strike. If you have scheduled your vacation or surgery prior to the strike vote, management will generally honor those requests. If your plans have not been pre-scheduled and we are on strike, you should be at your worksite on the picket line every day. If you are ill on a strike day, management will usually require a doctor’s note as verification. Strikes are not “a day at the beach.”

Will I be paid by my employer when I am on Strike?

No. However, you will receive a paycheck from your employer for any hours worked before or after the strike when it is normally received.

Do I need to call the nursing office on days we’re on strike?

No. As a healthcare facility, our Union is required by law to give 10 days notice of when we will go on strike to the hospital and to tell the hospital when we will return.

Will night shift workers be walking the picket line at night?

Due to safety concerns, night shift workers will not picket at night. Night shift workers will, however, be expected to be on the picket line during daytime hours. We will be signing people up for picketing times.

I’ve heard that management can lock us out after our strike. Is this true?

Unfortunately, management has the right to decide to lock out workers participating in a strike. This management decision would affect all members of the Bargaining Unit, so all RNs could be locked out. Since hospitals generally must pay replacement RNs a five-day minimum, we would likely be locked out for several days if our strike is fewer than five days.

What is a lockout? What benefits are available during a lockout?

A lockout is the employer’s counterpart to a strike. In a lockout, the employer prevents employees from working in an effort to gain a better bargaining position in labor negotiations. Some workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits in the event of a lockout.

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