Please note: this FAQ only applies to our members working in the rehabilitation services bargaining unit at Kaiser Permanente. Some answers and guidance will be different for nurses working under a collective bargaining agreement.
What are some of the next steps we will be taking?
On Monday, October 2, everyone in the rehabilitation services bargaining unit at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic will be sent a ballot by text, email, or both, giving them an opportunity to vote to authorize an up to two-week unfair labor practice strike. We are asking you to vote YES to authorize this strike because Kaiser has consistently canceled bargaining sessions, taken weeks to provide counter proposals, and has not had decision-makers at the bargaining table. If two-thirds plus one of the voting members vote yes to authorize a strike, your bargaining committee will be able to call a strike at the time they determine is most strategic. Because we work in health care, under the law, we will have to give ten days’ notice to Kaiser before engaging in a strike. If the strike authorization is approved on October 2, report to work as normal on October 3.
Nurses can honor your picket lines and we will ask them to.
If we vote to strike, what would happen?
In the health care industry, the law requires us to provide Kaiser with a ten-day notice before going on strike. The actual start date of a strike is a tactical decision and depends on a number of factors, including when it will have the biggest impact and if all other avenues of progress are exhausted. If a strike is authorized, your bargaining committee will determine when and if to issue a ten-day notice for a strike.
How long would a strike last?
If a strike is authorized, it could be for up to two weeks. Your bargaining committee will determine the length of the strike and it will be announced with the ten-day notice. The Coalition similarly authorized an up to two-week strike and then announced a strike of three days. The length will be a tactical decision based on a number of factors, including what will have the most impact.
Can I be fired for striking?
It is against the law for management to fire you because you exercise your legal right to strike. The strike you will be voting on is an unfair labor practice strike, which gives you additional protection as you cannot be permanently replaced and have to be returned to your job when you return to work.
Do I receive pay while on strike?
You do not receive pay from your employer while on strike, except for time you have already worked.
Can I get unemployment when on strike?
You are not eligible for unemployment benefits while on strike.
Can I work other places while on strike?
Yes. However, in order to win a strike, we must have everyone participate in strong picket lines. In order to receive strike pay, you must to work your shifts on the picket line. If, for physical reasons, you cannot picket, there are other ways you can support the strike.
Can my friends and family join the picket line?
Yes! Our fight is our friends’, families’ and communities’ fight. However, they will be required to abide by the same rules of conduct expected of all bargaining unit members. Violations of those rules will not be tolerated due to the potential legal liabilities involved.
What happens if I cross the picket line?
Whether or not you can cross a picket line is not a legal question, but rather a question of whether or not you will stand by your co-workers and fight for a fair contract. Solidarity wins strikes and a better standard of living; breaks in solidarity only advance the interests of the company. During a strike, the company’s only interest is winning the strike and crossing the picket line will result in a weaker contract.
What can we expect from management as we organize for a strike?
Management will try very hard to scare employees into settling for less. Kaiser will likely put out information attempting to convince you to accept their offer or tell you they need more time at the bargaining table. You may be required to attend mandatory “informational” meetings on work time to hear why you should accept the employer contract offer or about how much money you will lose while on strike. You have the right to express your opinion, counter misinformation, and take notes of what management says. Union members have the right to act together and it is illegal for management to threaten you or your employment in any way as you prepare for a potential strike. Kaiser needs to know we are getting ready and we are serious.
What else are we going to do to win a fair contract?
The key ingredient to winning a fair contract is the unity and resolve of the membership. Each action we take is part of a broader plan to bring increasing pressure on the employers to bargain in good faith. It’s important for each action to be well organized and have the participation of everyone. Our customers, elected officials, and community allies have all joined our fight and we will also have the backing of other labor unions in the area. If we stay united, we can win a fair contract.
We will be working as hard as possible to get you ready for a potential strike while we continue bargaining. The larger and the stronger the vote the better. A two-thirds majority is necessary to authorize a strike. If a strike is authorized, we will begin a strike at the time we determine is the most strategic.
What do I do if OPEIU/Coalition of Kaiser Unions members go on strike?
For the coalition strike, you do not have to cross the picket line. You should let your supervisor know you aren’t going to work because you are in support of your striking coworkers. This is protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. If Kaiser illegally retaliates, our remedy is through the National Labor Relations Board, which is a very slow process that will be even slower if the government shuts down.
Please note: this only applies to our members working in the rehabilitation services bargaining unit at Kaiser Permanente. If you are a nurse working under our collective bargaining agreement, you must report to work in the event of a OPEIU/Coalition strike.
Can I take PTO and get paid during a strike?
Striking is unpaid time. You can’t take PTO for it and they can’t make you take PTO for it.
If I have PTO already scheduled and it happens to coincide with the days we are striking, will I still get paid for my PTO?
If someone has pre-approved PTO that falls while we are on strike, Kaiser is legally obligated to still pay it. If they don’t, the remedy would be to file a wage and hour lawsuit against them in court.
If we authorize a strike, when will we go on strike? Should I go to work the next day?
If we authorize a strike, we have to give 10-days’ notice to Kaiser, so it will be at least 10 days from when we authorize a strike before we are on strike. When we decide to give that 10-day notice is determined by your bargaining committee based on when we think it is the most strategic, so it could be longer than 10 days from the day of the vote.
If we authorize a strike, who do I inform that I am not coming to work on the day or days of the strike?
You do not have to inform anyone. Our 10-day notice to management is for everyone and informs them that you will not be coming in to work those days. If your supervisor asks, you can tell them that you are planning to strike because of Kaiser’s refusal to bargain in good faith and because you are willing to do whatever it takes to win a fair contract that allows you to provide top quality care to your patients.
If we go on strike, what do I do during it?
If we give ten days’ notice and set a strike deadline, we will provide more information on this, but generally we ask that you show up to your worksite and picket (march with signs, chant, sing, let patients and the community know why you are not going to work) for the hours you would normally be scheduled to work. You are also welcome to be there more often! We will be recruiting and assigning picket captains and will make sure everyone knows where to be, what to do, and when.
What should I do if someone in management retaliates against me for supporting a strike vote or striking?
It is illegal for Kaiser to retaliate against you for supporting or participating in a strike. If anyone threatens or retaliates against you, contact someone from the bargaining committee or the union immediately.