What your WSNA leaders want you to know about the PeaceHealth strikes

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals have announced a strike at PeaceHealth St. John and PeaceHealth Southwest set to begin at 0630 on Monday October 23, 2023.

Here is what your WSNA leaders want you to know:

  • Like many labor contracts, WSNA’s current contract with PH St. John contains a “no strike” clause. That clause prohibits both WSNA from authorizing and RNs from engaging in any form of strike, sympathy strike, work stoppage, mass sick leave, or work slowdown. Unions agree to “no strike” clauses where employers, such as PH St. John, have agreed to submit disputes over the contract – including disputes regarding the discipline and discharge of employees – to a binding, neutral, third-party arbitration process. In other words, the union and its members will not withhold their labor if the employer agrees not to unfairly withhold employment. Because WSNA is bound by the terms in its contract with PH St. John, as your bargaining representative we cannot authorize a strike while the contract is in effect.
  • Your coworkers in OFNHP and their bargaining representatives may reach out to you with more information about how you can help support their efforts at negotiations without potentially violating the terms of your contract. Those efforts include ways to keep everyone safe while you’re at work, which means you may be most helpful to them on the job rather than on the picket line. Stay tuned for more information from them in the coming days on how you can help.
  • WSNA does not believe the no strike clause in your CBA at St. John prohibits you from engaging in picketing or supporting another bargaining unit’s efforts by joining their picket when you are off the clock. Your contract also prohibits St. John from requiring RNs to perform nursing work that doesn’t normally belong to your bargaining unit. If you are disciplined for attending a picket or for refusing to perform work that doesn’t normally belong to the RN bargaining unit, please contact your WSNA nurse representative as soon as possible so we can help protect your rights.
  • We do not believe any WSNA bargaining unit’s contract limits its workers’ ability to join a picket line at another employer’s facility. In other words, you may not be able to join a strike at PH St. John during the life of your contract, but when you’re off the clock you can join the picket line and support a strike at any facility that’s not covered by your contract.  And if OFNHP were to hold a rally or other strike-related event at locations away from the Medical Center, our members would be free to participate in those actions and we encourage them to do so.
  • Your contract protects you from being disciplined without just cause, so WSNA would grieve any discipline PeaceHealth imposes in response to your joining a picket line. PeaceHealth St. John may still try to discipline you if you participate (up to and including termination), even if you don’t miss work.  We would also likely file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. However, no grievance or unfair labor practice charge is a guarantee that you’ll be reinstated if you’re fired or that you’ll be made whole for missed wages. We encourage you to consider the risks and follow the best practices below if you choose to join a picket line at St. John.
  • Many other unions support our picket lines during contract negotiations, and we know you want to support workers in our industry and elsewhere. Regardless of where you show your support, we encourage our members to practice good picket line etiquette when you support other bargaining units:
    • We recommend joining a picket line only on days you are not scheduled to work. We recommend refraining if you are at work, even if you’re on a break, or if you’re on your way to or from work.
    • We recommend wearing shirts or stickers to show you’re a union member and a nurse, but we do not recommend wearing any PeaceHealth-provided shirts or other gear. Remember you’re showing up on your own behalf, not your employer’s.
    • We recommend directing any media questions to workers in the bargaining unit that organized the picket. Pickets are intended to send a message to employers and the public, so directing the press to those workers helps them spread the message further.
    • We recommend masking up and dressing for the weather to mitigate the risk of getting sick or hurt.
    • We recommend using good picket line etiquette by letting bargaining unit workers take center stage, listening to directions from the organizing union, and looking out for other participants so everyone stays safe and healthy.

We have heard your concerns about your day-to-day work during a strike.

WSNA recommends that you:

  • Treat work during the strike the exact same way they would during any other period of time.
  • Treat doing work outside of your job description exactly the same way you would before the strike.
  • Speak up if you are asked to do work that you are not trained and oriented to do. Put your concerns in writing in an email to your manager or file ADO forms as appropriate.
  • Avoid being labeled a “scab” by showing up on time to perform your scheduled work just like you would outside the context of a strike. Scabs are substitutes for your striking coworkers.  Sticking to your normal schedule is not scabbing; you are not doing work that belonged to your striking coworkers.
  • Report “scabs” who are not delivering safe care (More to come on this).

OFNHP has set up a Hardship Fund to support their striking members and welcomes individual donations.

Stay tuned as there will be more to come!

Most communications are sent via email. If you are not getting communications via email, please let your WSNA Rep know or check your junk/spam folders.

Contact Travis Elmore Nelson, WSNA Nurse Representative at 1 800 231-8482 ext. 3117 or telmore@wsna.org if you have questions.