Council of Sparrow Hospital
Q. What is a strike?
A. A strike happens when a group of workers – in our case 53 different classifications of healthcare professionals united – come together to decide to withhold our labor in order to advocate for what is right.
Q. How will the decision about whether we strike be made?
A. All dues-paying members will decide democratically together through a strike authorization vote whether we will go on strike. For health and safety considerations the vote will be conducted electronically starting on Tuesday, November 16th at 12:01am and will close on Sunday, November 21st at 11:59pm. The vote will be conducted by BallotPoint Election Services, a third-party election service. You must be a dues paying member in good standing and have an up to date personal email address listed with MNA to receive your electronic ballot. If you are unsure if you have an up-to-date personal email with MNA please update it by clicking here.
Q. Is striking legal? Am I protected from retaliation if I go on strike?
A. Yes. PECSH-MNA members have the legal right to strike under the law. No action can be taken against your license for participating in a strike. Retaliation from management against anyone for participating in the strike is strictly illegal. Illegal retaliation may include reducing regular hours, changing schedules, and issuing disciplines. MNA will aggressively defend members experiencing retaliation due to participation in legally protected strikes and union activity. If this occurs, please contact your PECSH-MNA representatives immediately.
Q. Can the hospital hire permanent replacements?
A. This is not likely and is ill-advised on the part of the hospital. In most strike situations, the use of temporary employees can satisfy the employer's needs to remain open. The feasibility of permanent replacement workers depends upon the available supply of caregivers and the skill level required for the job. It would be very difficult to find skilled caregivers willing to accept a job without assurance of continued employment when the strike is over, and it could potentially be illegal for management to seek to do so.
Q. Can the hospital or my manager ask me whether I would strike?
A. You should expect that the hospital or your manager will ask you about whether you would individually participate in a prospective strike. Hospitals often instruct managers to develop and utilize personal relationships with staff, so they can get them to talk about their plans. You are not required to respond to these questions, and if you do, we urge you to simply reply that you do not know or are unsure. It is illegal for these questions to be asked of you by management in a coercive or intimidating way. If that happens, you should contact your PECSH-MNA representatives immediately.
Q. What should I do if my supervisor tells me that I have to come to work during the strike and/or shows me some document saying that?
A. Contact our union immediately. This is a standard scare tactic to convince some caregivers that they are “required” to work. Our union will notify the employer that a limited number of PECSH-MNA members will be available if needed through a task force in the case of a true emergency.
Q. How will patient care be impacted by a strike? What about my license?
A. We work diligently to protect our patients before and during any strike. This includes giving a 10-day notice of a strike to the hospital and organizing a task force that will be available to the hospital in the case a true emergency arises during a strike. Our strike would be to highlight issues affecting nurses, health professionals and patients as a result of Sparrow’s decisions that disrespect essential caregivers during a pandemic.
If you are working the last shift before a strike begins, it is the hospital’s responsibility to provide someone for you to report off to. Your license will not be negatively impacted by your decision to choose to act in solidarity and go on strike.
Q. Should a newly hired caregiver honor the picket line during a strike?
A. Federal labor law protects all concerted activity, including strikes. New hires are covered by our contract and therefore should honor the picket line. No caregiver represented by PECSH-MNA should cross the picket line under any circumstances.
Q. Will I lose my healthcare benefits for going on strike?
A. The employer could suggest that caregivers who go on strike may lose their healthcare benefits unless they pay “the COBRA rate” to continue the existing level of health and dental coverage.
They might say something like: “Unless otherwise stated, your benefits coverage ends on the last day of the month in which the event occurs.”
Under current federal labor law and any strike plan MNA would develop, Sparrow executives cannot legally terminate your insurance on Day 1 of the strike. Terminating employees’ health insurance is a legal risk for the employer that we will be carefully monitoring and taking them to task on if they step over the line.
Strikers who return to work after the strike cannot legally be subject to any requalifying waiting periods under the health insurance plans.
Q. What is a lockout? Do we think Sparrow executives might lock us out?
A. A lockout would take place if Sparrow executives choose to prevent caregivers from returning to work after the strike. It is an aggressively anti-union tactic that is designed to try to break the solidarity of caregivers. Given that Sparrow has hired a unionbusting law firm, it is possible Sparrow might choose to engage in this action.
Q. How long will a strike last?
A. By authorizing a strike, we will give our elected bargaining team the power to call for a work stoppage. Sometimes strikes can just last a day, other times it can take much longer. Nurses and healthcare professionals have been crystal clear about what we need in order to be able to recruit and retain caregivers. Sparrow’s executives have chosen to drag their feet. We hope that they will quickly come to their senses and do the right thing.
Q. Why are we voting to strike?
A. PECSH-MNA members are holding a strike authorization vote because Sparrow executives have left us with no other choice. We know that we need a fair contract in order to be able to recruit and retain caregivers. We know that we need Sparrow executives to start negotiating in good faith. We know that our patients and our community need the best from Sparrow’s administration. We have tried everything to avoid this point – we pleaded with them at the bargaining table, wore red, signed a petition, and even held an informational picket. Nothing got through. Now, we are to the point where we must consider going on strike.
Q. What does it take to have a successful strike?
A. SOLIDARITY! The more nurses and health professionals we have standing together, the stronger we will be. Every caregiver who chooses not to stand with us - should we decide to strike - weakens the union and our bargaining position. Although our bylaws only require 50% + 1 of those voting in order to authorize a strike, we would never want to strike without an overwhelming majority of caregivers voting yes and committing to stand in support with their fellow caregivers.