Strike FAQ

Share if you care

If you still have questions after reading the following FAQ, ask them in the comments section below, so that everyone may see the answers. The Local 328 bargaining team is in mediation with OHSU on June 24 and 25 this week. Be sure to read our Preparing for a Strike article as well.

Q: Why are we voting to strike?

A: We’re not, yet. The Union must go through a legally mandated series of steps before a strike vote can be taken. You may read about those steps in a previous blog post. Right now, we are still at the mediation stage in bargaining. The only reason we would consider striking is if we could not come to agreement on the issues our members have told us they would strike over — that’s why the recent strike poll was so important. (For strategic reasons we are not making the results of that poll public at this time.) The larger question of why we would vote to strike is that, at the end of the day, unions get their power from the members’ willingness to withhold their labor — not from staff or lawyers or labor law.

Q: When will the strike vote be?

A: We’ll let our members know well in advance of a vote. At the stage of bargaining we are in now, it’s difficult to project exactly when a strike vote might occur. If we don’t come to agreement, it would be reasonable to anticipate a strike vote to happen sometime in the next two to six weeks.

Q: How long would we need to be on strike?

A: There really is no way to predict this. What we can say is that the more effective the strike is — the more employees who go out and stay out — the greater the pressure put on the employer to settle. Folks should not think that a two- or three-day strike or some symbolic gesture would move the employer once things have gotten to this point. Think weeks, not days.

Q: Why can’t we just reject OHSU’s offer and go back to bargaining?

A: Rejecting OHSU’s offer but refusing to strike would send the employer a message that they do not have to change their proposals — they could just wait out the legally mandated timelines and IMPOSE their final offer. We promise that our members won’t like their final offer.

Q: If we vote to strike, do I have to strike?

A: We consider every member of the bargaining unit — dues payers and fair-share-fee payers — morally obligated to support a strike. The whole point of a union is to act together in the interest of improving working conditions for EVERYONE. However, the union will not threaten or try to intimidate people — that’s not what we are about. However, if the bargaining unit does go on strike and you refuse to participate, don’t be surprised if/when your peers judge you for your actions that undermine the strike and threaten everyone’s chances to get a good deal and take care of their families.

Q: Will I be fired or lose my job if I strike?

A: No — striking is a legally protected activity if the strike is entered into lawfully by the union.

Q: Can I be permanently replaced?

A: Every strike ends with a return-to-work agreement in which the right of employees to their jobs is spelled out.

Q: What happens to my health-care coverage if I go out on strike?

A: OHSU is pay-as-you-go, which means that if you work even one day in a month you have health-care coverage for the whole month. We would time our strike notice to be at the beginning of the month so that members would be guaranteed a month of health-care coverage while on strike.

Q: When would a strike begin?

A: It’s really too soon to say with any certainty. A fair estimate would be no sooner than August, no later than October.

Q: Can I still take my  already scheduled vacation if we go on strike?

A: Probably not. OHSU would most likely declare an emergency and cancel vacations. We would grieve it, but by the time the grievance process ran its course, the strike would be over. If the employer cancels your vacation and orders you to work, you have the legal right to inform them that you are on strike and will not be returning to work until the strike is settled, but you won’t get to use your vacation time.

Q: Can trial-service employees be fired if they go on strike?

A: No — they are legally protected just as regular employees are.

Q: Can I work somewhere else during the strike?

A: Yes — in fact, this is a great strategy for weathering a strike. Even a part-time, low-wage job during this period could make a big difference for many families.

Q: Do I have to tell my boss that I am going out on strike?

A: No. S/he will figure it out when you don’t show up.

Q: What about paychecks?

A: OHSU will have to issue paychecks during the strike for money you earned prior to the strike. This is controlled by state law — earned wages may not be withheld.

Q: Who can strike?

A: Everyone in the bargaining unit can strike. Whether you are a dues-paying member or a fair-share-fee payer, you are protected.

Q: Can I be retaliated against for striking?

A: No. It is against state law for employers to retaliate against members for taking part in lawful union activities.

Q: Can we be locked out?

A: Legally, yes, but lockouts are almost unheard of in public-sector bargaining. There may have been some, but we are unaware of any.

Q: How long will we strike?

A: Until we reach an agreement with the employer. The ONA strike at OHSU lasted more than 50 days.

Q: How will we know when the strike is over?

A: The union will announce it via email and through press releases. You can be sure that if OHSU employees are striking, the news media will be covering it as well. In addition, the union will post regular updates on our blog, website and Facebook page, and we will announce a phone information line that people may call to hear recorded messages about the strike.

Q: Does the union have a strike fund or hardship fund?

A: The union has a contract-defense fund that is used for bargaining expenses, legal fees for grievance arbitrations, lost-time employees to help with organizing during bargaining and other bargaining-support costs such as printing and postage. Members pay $2.00/month of their dues into this fund — about $75.00 per member over the term of the contract. Even if we didn’t have to pay for other bargaining expenses, there clearly is not enough money in the CDF to subsidize wages.

Q: Can I work from home during a strike?

A: If you work from home for OHSU during the strike, you would be considered a strikebreaker. We consider all members of the bargaining unit morally obligated to honor the strike and would expect them to not work for OHSU as long as a strike is ongoing.

Q: Will the boss threaten me?

A: Report it if s/he does—it’s against the law and the union will file an unfair-labor-practice complaint with the state.

Q: Will I lose my seniority?

A: No.

Q: What will happen if OHSU cancels my medical insurance?

A: Your insurance cannot be canceled if you work at least one day in the month. 

30 thoughts on “Strike FAQ”

  1. Here’s a question that was posted on an earlier article: What does it mean for us practically if the contract is not extended?

    1. The biggest impact will be if you are receiving the PERS subsidy, that will end. Other than that the employer is obligated to maintain all terms and conditions of employment until a new agreement is reached. So, as a practical matter, other then the PERS subsidy, members won’t see a difference.

  2. I know this was answered during the last contract negotiations but I can’t remember the answer. What is required for a strike vote to pass? A simple majority of voting members? Or a majority yes vote across all members (whether or not they took the time to vote)? Another threshold?

  3. If I decide to not strike, will I be penalized for not striking, and if so how much would the penalty be.
    Coming from a low paying job on the hill striking doesn’t make sense for someone so low on the pay scale to be out of work for some time.

    1. We are not going to fine you, but it’s not true that striking won’t make sense. The only way for a strike to work is for people to stay together. People who work during a strike are hurting their peers and themselves in the long run. Striking is never easy, but lots of low wage workers have struck in order to improve their working conditions. Management’s wage progression proposal will take $13, 000 out of your pocket. Are you saying that you can afford to lose 13K but you can’t afford to miss a few weeks of work to help improve your life?

      1. I think this is exactly what low man is saying. It is irresponsible to compare the $13,000 that would be lost over the course of someone’s employment to the pay that would be lost immediately during a strike. Considering that the nurses strike lasted 50 days, and that there are no strike funds, striking is just not an economic feasibility for many of us.

        1. I understand what you’re saying. Absolutely.

          But the last few contracts we’ve had multiple takebacks from OHSU. Eventually, we need to take a stand.

          As one of my colleagues told me, it’s impossible to eat an entire elephant. However, eat a small piece at a time and eventually it’s gone.

          We’re the elephant. We’re getting eaten. Slowly but surely, we’re getting eaten. We need to make it stop. Their position that we’ve already shared in the prosperity is utterly ridiculous.

    2. I like how the union states there is not intimidation yet they throw around “morally obligated” and your coworkers may look down upon you. No Frank, some people cant afford to take two weeks off and that should be respected and understood.

      1. The union is exactly that — a group of people coming together for a common purpose. In this case, providing ancillary support services to OHSU. Our tasks vary but the goal is the same. So in that way, we need to be united for the best outcome for everyone. For the best outcome and the strongest message, everyone goes on strike. This is where the “moral obligation” comes in. We need to stand together.

        I represent my own personal opinion when I say that I believe each individual will make the decision he/she feels is best. For me, in my team, I wouldn’t second-guess anyone’s decision. And I believe I would treat all my co-workers the same as always and with the same respect. However, come next contract time, I’d probably wonder . . . if there was strike talk again.

        I know others who would actively look down on someone who crosses the picket line. And that’s not a union scare tactic; it’s simply a fact: there are people out there like that. For better or worse. It’s human nature.

        We’re a union of 5,000+. If even half walked out across many different areas, OHSU would be paying a pretty penny for replacements. They talk about unsustainable increases? That would be unsustainable.

        I’m not a union rep. I’m not in union management or AFSCME staff. I’m not in the bargaining team. But I personally believe that if we don’t end up striking, we’ll have been within days — maybe a day — of the beginning of a declared strike when an agreement is reached. In the meantime, I’m making preparations.

        OHSU has just ticked me off. Enough is enough. And if the strike vote comes out, I’ll be saying yes. Otherwise this elephant is going to continue to be gnawed at until there’s nothing left. I’m tired of the takebacks. And many people I work with are too.

  4. It takes all of us as a family to make a strike effective. If we all stick together the length of the strike should be much shorter. There are resources to help get through this. There are food banks & churches to name a few. Picking up a low paying job or doing small jobs under the table will help. There ARE ways to get by during a strike. Remember, the strike is short term and we’ll lose a lot less than not striking and losing much more.

  5. Can you tell me when was the last time OHSU AFSME employee’s participated in a strike and how long did it last?

  6. Would the strike work any differently at the satellite offices than on the hill? How do you sign up to volunteer with strike duties?

    1. It would work the same at branch offices. We will be putting out a call for volunteers with information on how to sign uop.

  7. Will employees still in their 6 month probationary period be terminated during a strike for striking? Moreover, a long term employee who accepts a new position in the department, they too will be in a 6 month probationary period, and management can cut them. Such employees might be driven to face the scorn of union colleagues in order to stay employed.

  8. I have a colleague who will be going on paternity leave around the beginning of September.

    If he has the paperwork filed and otherwise ready to go, and the strike occurs during his FMLA time, does he get paid for that?

    1. I don’t know the answer to that. If he contacts me directly I will make an inquiry of our staff attorney and get him an answer.

  9. If we strike and it lasts more than a month will we be allowed to pay for our health insurance coverage so it is not canceled. This is an important consideration for those families with ongoing medical needs.

  10. OHSU is extremely proficient at “dividing and conquering” one piece of elephant at a time until the elephant is GONE. Our economic package (the one OHSU agreed to provide me in exchange for my skills and commitment) is the elephant; I’ve been here 15 years and I can tell you my elephant will be COMPLETELY GONE if OHSU wins this round of contract negotiations. IT IS TIME FOR US TO TAKE A STAND. To do that, we MUST act as ONE (i.e. “UNION”). The more unified we are, the shorter the strike will be; the more divided we are, the less a strike will impact OHSU’s day-to-day operations and the more power they will have to force us to say good-bye to our Elephant. It’s pure common sense – we all know what we have to do if we want to say NO MORE TAKE-BACKS to OHSU.

  11. I was wondering what the results of the strike poll were. Apparently, it was a strong response, but would like to hear anyway. I also think it’s important to hang together. This time it looks like OHSU is working on busting the union and will do so if we continue to not offer any resistance to their crappy offer.

    1. I’m interested too. However, I’m pretty sure they’re keeping that data close to the vest right now for strategic purposes. Maybe they’ll let us know after we have a new contract.

  12. I think ohsu should be very concerned about bad publicity and lost income should we strike.

    Although I’ve decided ohsu must own stock in the local news stations and the bOregonian our issues will be announced to the general public. Despite their Strategic Communications experts the negative press will always be there. I’m so proud of my sister for dropping her workplace DCH donation.

    Their expenses will be much more than hiring scabs. On the inpatient med/surg front they may have to divert patients to other hospitals, put off elective surgery, and lose patients able to choose another hospital. I wonder about RN staff, would they make very big bucks to pick up the slack, or not work extra shifts adding to the divert (lost money) to other hospitals.

    Ohsu has a lot to lose should we strike.

  13. Does it not depend on how many people strike and those who decide to walk over the picket line? It goes back to solidarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>