PeaceHealth Strike FAQ
What is a strike exactly?
When bargaining fails to result in a contract we can be proud of, a strike is our last option where union workers, together, refuse to go to work, shifting the balance of power and showing the employer how essential we are.
When would a strike occur?
A strike can only occur after the contracts have expired, and all of them will expire by September 30th.
How much notice do we have to give to the employer?
How is a strike determined?
Only a vote of the OFNHP membership would determine whether or not we go on strike. The overwhelming majority of our members would have to want a strike for it to go forward.
If I am a member of the union, am I required to strike?
Each union member makes their own choice, but we can say that it requires the vast majority of our members going on strike to make it effective. We will not put in notice of a strike unless it is absolutely clear that 80% or more of represented PeaceHealth workers who are strike eligible will respect the strike. All of the "strikeable" units will be a part of this process.
Will I be getting paid during a strike?
No. But it is a sacrifice: we are withholding our work to put pressure on the employer to treat us respectfully by settling a fair contract. There are other financial options available to members who have an immediate financial need such as no interest loans through the American Federation of Teachers and a Strike Hardship Fund run by OFNHP. There is more information on these resources below.
What happens to my health insurance during a strike?
The employer has the ability to sever health insurance if a strike goes past the period for which the employer has already paid. This means that if you have worked at the beginning of the month, then your health insurance will be active through the end of the month. It is incredibly rare for an employer to sever health insurance, and in almost all cases healthcare coverage is not severed by the employer during a strike. Imagine how the public would respond to learning that PH cut off health insurance during a pandemic — for the very people sacrificing to save our communities.
If PeaceHealth does cut off health insurance, what options do I have?
Every member and our families can maintain uninterrupted care with the same benefits and costs by paying for COBRA. But again, this is extremely rare.
Which units are not allowed to strike?
Any unit that has a union contract in effect that has a “no strike” clause. This means that any unit that settles their contract cannot strike, and other unions cannot strike in solidarity.
Will it just be PeaceHealth members on strike?
Yes, unless other unions have a breakdown in their own negotiations. "Solidarity strikes," where another union goes on strike in solidarity with us, is, unfortunately, illegal.
Will striking hurt our patients?
Not at all. In fact, we would be striking to ensure that PeaceHealth invests inpatient care and those of us who provide it. We use our collective strength to help make that happen. The hospital has a duty to provide adequate care. And since they need to meet that need, they will be pushed to settle the contract as quickly as possible. Remember: PH has the power to void a strike. We are on the frontline taking care of our patients.
Will the public support us?
Healthcare workers are the most popular professions in the country right now, and union actions by healthcare workers get huge amounts of support. They know that we saved lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will support us. Other unions and community groups have already been sending letters of support to PeaceHealth leadership and they will start signing a community petition shortly, as well as calling and texting PeaceHealth leadership. We also have relationships through groups like Jobs with Justice and the AFL-CIO, not to mention massive support from political leaders. The public is with us and will demand that PeaceHealth does what's right.
What financial supports are available?
There are two programs offered for members who are on strike and who show up daily on the picket line. First, we have access to an interest free loan through the AFL-CIO credit union through an online application process. In addition, for individuals who are facing extremely difficult financial hardship, a hardship relief fund will be made available. Going on strike is a sacrifice we make in the short term in order to improve our lives and patient care forever after. Neither of these funds are intended to replace any member’s full income; they are intended to help get through a period without pay while we fight for dignity, respect, and workplace equity. For more information, please see the OFNHP website.
Will I get fired or disciplined for striking?
It is illegal to discipline a worker in any way for participating in this strike or any other labor action. We are protected and stronger together.
How long could this strike last?
It’s impossible to say. The length of a strike is a strategic decision, but usually it lasts long enough to reach final agreements on key issues. The vast majority of strikes end within days to a couple weeks.
What kind of issues could make a strike an option?
Historically low wages and short staffing remain the biggest issues as well as other issues related to PTO, differentials and other workplace provisions.
What would be required of me during a strike?
A strike primarily means not crossing the picket line by not going to work! In addition, members should plan on walking the picket line daily, attending rallies, taking digital action, etc. Being on strike is not a vacation from work. It means working together to secure a contract that protects our patients and our livelihoods.
What can I do to make sure our campaign is strong and we win a great contract?
Regardless of a strike, we need you to get active in supporting the campaign. You can join the CAT team, attend any in-person rallies, sign and share petitions, use any of the digital backgrounds or Facebook Frames, and, most importantly, share our struggle with your friends and family. This is a shared battle: when frontline healthcare workers like us win, the entire community gets better health coverage.
How would a strike end?
Once we reach a Tentative Agreement (TA) on the new contract, we may issue a notice of a “return to work,” which means the strike has ended and all striking workers will return to their regular shifts and vote on whether to ratify our contract.
Can PeaceHealth permanently replace me if I go on strike?
No. Our bargaining teams have identified multiple Unfair Labor Practices committed by PeaceHealth which provide OFNHP members with additional job protections during a strike. Employees on an Unfair Labor Practice strike cannot be permanently replaced by their employer. We know PeaceHealth will try to find temporary strike breakers, but management won’t be able to fully staff our facilities due to the strength of our strike. At the end of an Unfair Labor Practice strike, you can return to your job.
What’s a “lock out?”
This is when management refuses to let striking workers return. A lockout is only possible when we do not have a contract in effect. While management may have the right to lock us out, they are limited by the legal requirement to provide safe patient care. Employees who are locked out by an employer in Oregon and Washington are eligible for unemployment benefits. Do you think tens of thousands of striking PH union members in two states can be replaced?