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PLEASE help me work through this issue...

NannyG16 NannyG16 (New) New

Has 23 years experience.

I am an RN with 23 years in the field who recently accepted a position in a large union hospital (my first union job), and I am afraid that I may have a problem. My first day on the job is to be 7/11... but the RN's contract expires 6/30. They are not making much progress with contract negotiations, and with less than a week to go before the contract expires I have a few questions...

If there is a job action, how am I to behave? I will be orienting for a number of weeks before I actually can function as an RN in the hospital, and I will not be a member of the union for up to 30 days after I start, so can I enter the hospital for orientation if there is a strike? Can I lose my brand new job if I don't? Will the other nurses in the hospital ever accept me if I do?

I would be grateful for any thoughts that RNs (unionized or not) have on this issue. I have already given notice to my present employer, and will not be working there after 7/7, so if I "sit out" any time in July waiting for things to resolve, it will be financially disastrous for me... but I want to do the right thing as regards my new union and new fellow employees.

My head is spinning. Your thoughts, please?

Thank you!

Woodenpug, BSN

Specializes in MPCU.

I would guess that if you are not a member until you have 30 days on the job, then you do not have union obligations until you have 30 days on the job. You can tell your present employer that you changed your mind and have decided to stay. But take my advise with a grain of salt, because I have worked in union shops and will starve before I ever do so again.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

Have they indicated there will be job action? Where I work the contracts always expire well before the other is settled. I have never seen job action, we just keep working under the old one even if it has "expired".

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 9 years experience.

Even though you are just starting out at the hospital, there should be a union representative from your hospital that you can contact to ask what the policies are. However strikes don't usually happen until several weeks or months after a contact expires. They are really a last resort for everyone. The hospital where I did most of my clinicals just finished an eight month negotiation. There was only one strike during this time and it lasted one day.

i had an identical situation. i moved to a new area and was to begin my new job on july 2. driving to my new house from the airport i turned on the radio and learned that the nurses at this major academic hospital had just gone out on strike. the nurses there had had no contract ever, and had notified the hospital that they would be going out on strike ad of 0700 on july 1. for three weeks before this, hospital and nurses worked to close beds, so by the time july 1 rolled around there were only about 65 patients in the 700+-bed hospital, enough for management nurses to care for them; no elective surgeries scheduled, etc., etc. that strike lasted ten days. one of the friends i made there told me as she was leaving the icu at 0730 on july 1, she saw two first-year residents totally gowned and gloved at a bedside, with the following conversation occurring: "i'll hold him over and you clean him up." "no, i'll hold him over and you clean him up!" she laughed all the way to the parking lot.

i started work the day after the strike settled. i had one peer who was supposed to start with me, but (this was in the days before the internet, of course) she didn't know they were out, and reported on the 2nd. they put her right to work; the rest of us never held it against her.

contact the state nursing association and ask for their take on it.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

They can and usually will work wthout a contract for a while so by the time there is an action you should be well past orientation but I would call the union to see what they would like you to do. Congrats and good luck!

86toronado, BSN, RN

Specializes in neurology, cardiology, ED. Has 5 years experience.

Where I work we were just about a year without a new contract, and never went out on strike. As a new employee, your primary concern should be keeping your nose clean until the contract negotiations are over.

As someone who wasn't ever "covered" by the old contract, you don't want any disciplinary action against you before you are "covered" by a new one. If that means not participating in any of the union activities, like leafleting, or informational picketing, so be it. Your new co-workers should understand that you don't want to draw too much attention to yourself. You are new and don't have the union to back you up yet if the management suddenly finds "issues"with your charting, or something else along those lines after seeing you out on a picket line.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

congratulations on your new job in a union hospital! i really wish we had a union where i work, but alas -- no unions at all here.

contract negotiations can go on for months after a contract expires, so report to work and start your orientation. there's an excellent chance that you'll be off orientation and covered by the union before a job action occurs. if it occurs.


Has 23 years experience.

Thank you all for your thoughts and words of wisdom.

I guess I was thinking that it would all happen sooner rather than later because I know that the hospital has already made arrangements for temporary staff to be ready in the event of a "10 day notice"... but maybe they always do that.

Anyway, I will continue to hope that this resolved at the last minute... or months from now... so that I don't have to worry about walking through that front door during my first few weeks.

Thanks again. I appreciate the time that you took to help me!

Had the same exact situation last year when I graduated from nursing school. By October there were rumors of a lock-out. I had never been a union member, joined the union after 90 days (required) but was not covered by the previous contract. Lockout never happened, contract was settled just after the first of the year. If the contract wasn't settled in January after the recent round of negotiations I thought it might get really ugly and considered contacting an employment attorney for advice/guidance in the event of the worst case scenario. Thankfully the contract was ratified and I didn't need to worry about it. Good luck!