FAQ: Basic Rights and Definitions
Q: What Is A Strike?
A strike is an organized work stoppage by union members.
Q: What Is The Difference Between Economic Strikes And ULP (Unfair Labor Practice) Strikes?
In an economic strike, the purpose is to obtain some bargaining concessions from the employer such as higher wages or better working conditions. ULP strikes are motivated, at least in part, to protest unfair labor practices committed by the employer.
Q: How Will I Know What Type Of Strike We Will Have?
The union has filed unfair labor practice charges against the employer alleging bad faith bargaining, violations of employees’ right to wear their union shirts, and unlawfully requiring employees to answer whether they intend to work during the strike. Because the strike is, at least in part, motivated by the employer’s commission of unfair labor practices – it is a ULP strike.
Q: What Is A Lockout?
A lockout is the withholding of employment by an employer from its employees for the purpose of either resisting employees’ demands or gaining a concession from them. A lockout most typically occurs when a strike has officially ended, and we have offered an unconditional offer to return to work, but the employer continues to deny employment to strikers, instead of calling everyone back to work right away. An employer can only use temporary replacements during a lockout.
Q: Will I Be Locked Out From My Job If I Go Strike?
An employer that intends to use a lockout to enforce its bargaining demands must make its intentions clear at the earliest opportunity. The employer must give the union a clear set of conditions for the return of employees to work. Without such notice, the employer’s withholding of employment would be unlawful and the union would pursue another Unfair Labor Practice charge against the employer. For example, the union may strike for five days, and the employer may illegally lock bargaining unit employees out for an additional two days. UNAC/UHCP is ready to pursue all legal options available to protect your right to strike.
FAQ: Patient Care
Q: When We Go On Strike, Who Will Take Care Of Our Patients?
Ultimately, going on strike may be the best way to take care of patients in the long term. We are required by law to give 10 days’ notice of a strike so that the employer has time to arrange proper care for patients. The union submitted that notice to the employer, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and California State Mediation and Conciliation Service on September 27, 2023. A strike is legally protected union activity and does not constitute abandonment of our patients because we have given the employer and appropriate authorities the legally required notice in advance of the strike.
Q: Should I Discuss The Strike With My Patients?
We may inform our patients, but we should not lobby them. We may provide factual answers or materials in response to patient questions regarding the strike, the issues, and how patients can help, but with no pressure, request, or expectation that they participate in or support the strike, the issues, and how patients can help—without pressure or expectations of support or participation.
Q: How Does Bargaining Improve The Care We Give To Patients?
Bargaining gives us a voice in the work we do and the care we provide to our patients. We are bargaining to include contract language that improves safe staffing, patient safety and health and safety protection language.
FAQ: The Bargaining Process
Q: Why Is It Important That We Stand Together As Co-Workers During Negotiations?
When we stand together, we have power. Solid participation by our union members shows management and the public that we are united to achieve our goals. Unity means taking part in actions big and small, including:
- Sharing bargaining information on social media
- Sharing information about the employer’s unfair labor practices
- Wearing a sticker or button to work
- Signing a petition
- Joining a picket or vehicle parade outside of our work hours
- Striking and withholding your labor to protest the employer’s unfair labor practices, protect our patients, our community and our profession
Q: Why Do I Keep Hearing My Co-Workers Talk About Going Out On Strike?
Our bargaining team has put forward proposals and recommendations that invest in patient care and safe patient ratios for Registered Nurses and been met with a refusal to acknowledge these issues and a refusal to consider any departure from the expired contract from St. Francis Medical Center management. The employer wants to reduce costs by giving a minimal increase to wages, refusing to add Title 22 protection language to the contract, and continuing to violate RN to patient ratios, while continuing to make money on the backs of SFRNA members. The union has alleged that the employer had engaged in bad faith bargaining, a violation of your right to wear union shirts and unlawfully requiring employees to answer whether they intend to work during the strike.
Q: Why Go On Strike? Can’t We Simply Continue To Negotiate?
Registered nurses at St. Francis Medical Center have always approached the issue of striking seriously. We have had to stand up to management and say no in the strongest way—to protest unlawful conduct, to protect our patients, our licenses, our practice, and our contract. Patients are our top priority. We have made proposals to management that would attract and retain registered nurses and improve the quality of care that we provide to our patients.
Q: Will Our Union Continue To Negotiate With Management During A Strike?
Absolutely, our goal is to win the best possible contract with the wages, benefits, and working conditions that health care workers and patients deserve. All collective actions—including strikes—build the leverage necessary we need to negotiate the contracts we deserve.
FAQ: The Strike Process
Q: Why Should I Participate In A Strike?
UNAC/UHCP members have taken escalating collective action as part of this campaign. A strike is our next step in protesting unlawful conduct, fighting for respect from management and quality care for our patients. Solid strike participation in the strike vote and strike itself shows St. Francis Medical Center, the media, and the public that we are united. Staying home or crossing the picket line sends the message that St. Francis Medical Center can continue the path of cheapening care, risking our licenses, and undoing all the progress we’ve worked to build together.
Q: What Is A 10-Day Notice, And Why Do We Have To Give One To St. Francis Medical Center ?
By voting to authorize a strike, we gave our bargaining team the direction to conduct a strike. Federal law required our union to give St. Francis Medical Center management a 10-calendar day notice of our intent to strike. The law requires this advance notice so that St. Francis Medical Center has the necessary time to prepare for patient care.
Q: How Long Does A Strike Last?
Our bargaining team has called for a 5-day strike starting on Monday, October 9, 2023 at 6:30 a.m. and ending October 14, 2023 at 7:00 a.m.
Q: When Will St. Francis Medical Center Be Notified?
St. Francis Medical Center and the appropriate government agencies were notified on Wednesday, September 27, 2023.
Q: Can I Get In Trouble Or Fired For Going On Strike?
Federal law protects our right to strike. Specifically, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act states in part, “Employees shall have the right. . . to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Strikes are legally protected concerted activities. We cannot be terminated for going on strike.
Q: Can I Lose My Job If I Strike?
We cannot be terminated for going on strike. During an Unfair Labor Practice strike, the employer can only hire temporary replacements. However, if the strike is found to be an economic strike, the employer may hire permanently replacements. Striking employees will have rehire rights to vacant comparable positions if the strike is found to be an economic strike.
Q: Can My Position Be Permanently Replaced If I Go On Strike?
Legally it depends on the type of strike:
ULP strike: We cannot be terminated and cannot be permanently replaced but may be temporarily replaced. However, ultimately, we must be reinstated upon an unconditional offer to return to work.
Economic strike: We cannot be terminated, but the employer can hire permanent replacements. However, we would be entitled to be placed on a reinstatement list for any comparable vacant position.
Keep in mind that unity is our best defense. It would be virtually impossible for St. Francis Medical Center to permanently replace all UNAC/UHCP registered nurses that work at St. Francis Medical Center.
Q: What Can I Do To Prepare For A Strike?
The more visible actions we take together leading up to a strike, the more likely we are to win the contract we deserve without having to strike. We can actively participate in our campaign by attending meetings, participating in solidarity actions such as wearing stickers, and joining us at negotiation sessions.
Q: Do I Get Paid During A Strike Or Lockout?
No, this is part of the reason why a strike is a tactic of last resort.
Q: Can I Call Out Sick During A Strike?
No, we should not call out sick. Sick time can be only used for legitimate medical uses.
Q: Can I Use Vacation Or PTO During A Strike?
No, we cannot.
Q: What Happens If I Am On A Leave (Personal, Medical, FMLA, Maternity/Parental) During The Time A Strike Is Called?
If we are on this type of leave during a strike, we will likely not be considered “on strike.”
Q: What Happens To Disability Pay Or Workers Comp During A Strike?
Disability pay or workers compensation payments cannot be discontinued if we are collecting these at the time of a strike. Employees collecting disability pay must be careful in deciding to picket—the employer could use your actions to discontinue benefit payments on the basis that you are no longer disabled. Please consult a UNAC/UHCP staff representative with specific questions related to these issues.
Q: What Happens to My Medical/Health Insurance Benefits?
St. Francis Medical Center will likely maintain medical/health coverage until the last day of the month in which the employer has already paid—usually the end of the month for which you have worked at least one day. St. Francis Medical Center can terminate employees’ health insurance during a strike. The organization has to provide you with a COBRA notice and allow employees the opportunity to continue coverage by paying the cost of that coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, employees can purchase a plan on the exchange if coverage is terminated. St. Francis Medical Center would also have to deal with the probable extreme public backlash to it terminating medical/health insurance benefits for its own frontline health care employees.
Q: Does Management Have The Right To Ask If I Intend To Strike Or Not?
Although management may ask whether you intend to work during the strike, you have the right to decline to answer. The union’s 10-day notice is legally sufficient to give the employer notice that bargaining unit employees intend to strike. You do not have to tell management of our intent to either strike or cross the picket line. We do not have to answer if asked. We can simply say “I am standing with my co-workers.”
It is unlawful for our manager to ask us further questions about our plans or to discourage us from participating in the strike. If you get such questions, please contact a UNAC/UHCP staff representative. UNAC/UHCP can follow up and make sure that the harassment stops.
Q: What If My Manager Asks Me, For Scheduling Purposes, Whether I Am Coming To Work?
The best answer is, “No. I am standing with my co-workers in order to win the best possible contract.”
However, legally, we do not have to answer. It is unlawful for our managers to ask us further questions about our plans or to discourage us from participating. If they do so, please document the conversation and notify a UNAC/UHCP staff representative or steward right away.
Q: Must I Personally Notify My Manager That I Won’t Be Coming To Work On The Day Of The Strike?
No. Our delivery of the legal 10-day notice has informed St. Francis Medical Center that all UNAC/UHCP bargaining unit members will not be reporting to work. There is no need to call in.
Q: What Happens If I Cross The Strike Line To Work?
Our ability to protest the employer’s unfair labor practices and win a fair contract depends on our unity. Every registered nurse who crosses the picket line weakens our ability to fight for our patients, our profession, and the contract we deserve.
Q: Can My Family And Friends Join Me On The Picket Line?
Absolutely. This is the best time for the community to show their support for health care workers.
Q: Will Night-Shift Workers Be Walking The Picket Line At Night?
All members of UNAC/UHCP who work for St. Francis Medical Center will have the responsibility to take shifts on our strike line.
Q: What If I Am Scheduled To Work The Night Shift Before The Strike Begins?
Go to work as scheduled. At the designated time give report, stop working, and clock out. Then join co-workers on the strike line.
Q: Can I Strike If I’m Per Diem, Or Still In My Probationary Period?
Yes. Federal law protects all workers’ ability to strike. Everyone should honor the strike line.
Q: Can I Strike If I Am Not A Member Of UNAC/UHCP (I Am A Beck Objector/Agency Fee Payer)?
Yes, we can still strike, and we are still protected by federal law.