Corpus Christi, TX HCA Strike?

  1. So, I was handed a flyer today at work that said the RNs at the HCA facility in Corpus Christi had voted to strike in protest of not having agreement with HCA on a contract.

    I was just wondering...what are those nurses planning to do when they get fired by HCA due to the fact that they have no contract protecting their right to strike, and are working in At-Will employment state?

    Seems like a risky move, to me.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. Visit Bortaz, RN profile page

    About Bortaz, RN, ADN

    Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 2,875; Likes: 5,260
    NICU; from US
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in NICU; Coordinator of Clin Documentation


  3. by   herring_RN
    In my experience in California most strike votes motivate management to bargain in good faith so there is not a strike. RNs at my hospital voted to authorize a strike. Then nurses concerns were actually listened to. We didn't have to strike. I found an article about these nurses concerns about sick babies and emergency care.
    Corpus Christi Medical Center defends care as nurses call on hospital to address staffing issues
    October 7, 2011

    [FONT=Arial Narrow]Rhiannon Meyers/Caller-Times Members of a nurses union gather in front of Bay Area Medical on Thursday to call on Corpus Christi Medical Center to address what they call problems with chronic understaffing. The hospital said in a statement the nurses are making the allegations to enhance the union's bargaining position

    CORPUS CHRISTI — As 75 nurses gathered in front of Bay Area Hospital on Thursday calling on Corpus Christi Medical Center to address what they see as chronic understaffing, the hospital released a statement defending its care….

    … The union, which organized in May 2010 under the guidance of a California-based nursing union, has argued that chronic understaffing is eroding the quality of care at Corpus Christi Medical Center hospitals, particularly in the neonatal units and the emergency rooms.

    The nurses union remains under contract negotiations with hospital management but have yet to come to an agreement about staffing.

    At Thursday's news conference, the nurses argued that the poorer the work environment and the staffing, the poorer the patient outcomes.

    "We're calling on the hospital to listen to us, to work with us, to reach a resolution on these issues to provide the best care for our patients," said Lavaughn Renner, an emergency room nurse….

    [FONT=Arial Narrow]Lavaughn Renner, an emergency room nurse at Doctors Regional, addresses the crowd Thursday.
  4. by   Bortaz, RN
    Quote from herring_RN
    In my experience in California most strike votes motivate management to bargain in good faith so there is not a strike. RNs at my hospital voted to authorize a strike. Then nurses concerns were actually listened to. We didn't have to strike. I found an article about these nurses concerns about sick babies and emergency care.
    But the difference is, in CA they had the protection of a contract. These nurses in TX have no contract to protect them, and TX is an At-Will Employment state.
  5. by   herring_RN
    Because of this thread I'm praying for Corpus Christi and other nurses in Texas to succeed in gaining improved staffing for their patients and themselves. Nurses at one hospital in Texas have a contract.
    Cypress Fairbanks RNs Close In On First Private Hospital Contract in Texas
    RNs at Cypress Fairbanks Hospital in Houston Texas rallied in support of their bargaining team as hearings began this week to arbitrate remaining contract issues. While the bargaining team has reached tenative agreement on many issues important to nurses, the Board of Inquiry hearing process will ensure CyFair nurses finally get a contract.

    On the first day of hearings, nurses travel from far and near to show their support for a landmark first RN contract at a private hospital in Texas….
    Nurses reach tentative deal with Tenet

    Nurses, Tenet have tentative deal on 3-year pact

    …One of the key benefits of the agreement is the establishment of an independent registered nurse professional practice committee that will meet regularly to discuss patient care issues, she said.
    Tenet spokesman David Matthews said Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center is pleased the agreement does not include language about mandatory staffing ratios….
    Business Week
    July 22, 2010

    …in Texas, which has a unionization rate of only 5.1 percent, the NNU just concluded the state's first-ever union nurses' contract, winning a 10.5 percent raise over three years from Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital in Houston. ...
    (3rd page)
    Last edit by herring_RN on Nov 20, '11
  6. by   herring_RN
    "Right to Work State" simply means an employee cannot be forced to join a union and pay dues.
    The right to strike is the same in all states.
    Strikes and picketing are protected by the NLRA as long as they are lawful, a determination that may depend on the purpose of the strike, its timing, or the conduct of the strikers. Such issues often have to be decided by the NLRB. The consequences can be severe. For example, employees who participate in an unlawful strike may be fired and are not entitled to reinstatement.

    A lawful strike falls into two classes:

    If the object of a strike is to obtain higher wages, shorter hours, or better working conditions, the striking employees are called "economic strikers". They cannot be discharged, but they can be replaced. If the employer has hired bona fide permanent replacements, the strikers are not entitled to immediate reinstatement if they offer unconditionally to return to work. In that case, they are entitled to be recalled to jobs when openings occur.

    Employees who strike to protest an unfair labor practice committed by their employer are called "unfair labor practice strikers". Such strikers can be neither discharged nor permanently replaced. When the strike ends, unfair labor practice strikers, absent serious misconduct on their part, are entitled to have their jobs back even if employees hired to do their work have to be discharged. Unfair labor practice strikers have greater rights of reinstatement to their jobs.

    If the Board finds that economic strikers or unfair labor practice strikers who have made an unconditional request for reinstatement have been unlawfully denied reinstatement by their employer, the Board may award such strikers back pay starting at the time they should have been reinstated....
  7. by   Chico David RN
    Herring has it right and I want to add a few more thoughts:
    A lot of people think that being a so-called right-to-work state means more than it does.
    It does NOT mean that federal labor law doesn't apply.
    It does NOT mean that unions are illegal.
    It does NOT mean that workers necessarily have fewer rights or legal protections
    The only legal difference is that it's illegal to have a contract in which people are required to join or pay dues in order to work at a union facility. That's the legal side of the story.
    Of course what's legal and what actually happens are not always the same. In practice, since those states have fewer and weaker unions, they also have less in the way of protection for all workers - workplace safety laws, minimum wage laws, even child labor laws - tend to be weaker in those states. And, despite federal law, workers in all states are sometimes fired or discriminated against for union activity. It's illegal everywhere in America for management to do that, but the penalties are so weak and the enforcement so poor that managers who want to break the law know they won't face any meaningful penalty.
    The best protection that workers have is their own solidarity and the strength of the union behind them - in this case a union with a strong history of standing behind people who take risks to build the union.
  8. by   Bortaz, RN
    You may be right, but my point was that, without the protection of a binding contract between union and hospital, in an at-will employment state like TX, the nurses could very well be fired if they miss work and strike. Nothing you have said contradicts that point, nor does anything I've read while looking into this.

    The organizers at the hospital TELL the nurses they can't be fired for striking, but I'm just not certain they're being completely forthcoming in re: the risk they're taking in this state.
  9. by   Chico David RN
    Just one more point to understand: Normally, strikes don't happen during a contract anyway - Most contracts these days have a no-strike clause, so with rare exceptions strikes happen after a contract has expired - or in the process of trying to get a first contract, like this one. For example, when we were bargaining at my hospital a few years ago, the contract expired while bargaining was going on and we had to chose between agreeing to extend the contract while bargaining, which meant we could not strike, or letting the contract expire, which gave us the added weapon of a strike to use.
    Also, remember that what has happened there is a strike authorization vote, which is not the same as deciding to actually do it. An awful lot of contracts settle after the workers have taken a strong strike vote but before an actual strike. Some votes are taken with no real intent to strike but to use the vote to build power and put pressure on management.
    Finally, just think about what you are saying, or implying, in this last post: Use those critical thinking skills that all nurses are supposed to have. The whole point of a union, what it exists for, is to make things better for workers. Can you figure out something that union staff would gain by misleading the workers into a situation where they would be fired? That would pretty much finish the union at that location and waste all the time and energy and money the union spent to organize them in the first place. Wouldn't make much sense to do that.