|Written by Editorial Staff|
There was a major strike by nurses and allied healthcare workers lasting some 6 weeks at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia that ended last month (April 2010). A major open ended strike is being contemplated at the Stanford University Hospitals in California, and there is a strong possibility of 12,000 nurses going on strike at various hospitals in the Minneapolis/St Paul area of Minnesota. This would be the largest strike by nurses in the US ever. The previous largest strike was also in Minneapolis/St Paul in 1984.
These work actions have generated considerable curiosity on the part of travelers as to why a strike and what it might be like to work a strike. Because of this curiosity, PanTravelers has posted this comprehensive article to help address these questions. The article is generally neutral about strikes and unions, posting arguments from both sides of this often controversial subject. As such, members may be unclear about our editorial position on working strikes. Here it is: Travelers should not work strikes.
Doing so undercuts our fellow professionals. Their issues for taking extreme action and loss of pay are local are we cannot double guess their rationales from a distant perspective. Certainly from a historical perspective, unions have improved working conditions so much, that the gains of the early pioneers have been incorporated into legal protections we take for granted now and would be loathe to lose. Child labor laws, 40 hour weeks, overtime and minimum wage and worker safety laws are some of the gains that unions fought for. Many of the issues that healthcare unions are fighting for today are directly related to patient safety and outcomes. Staffing ratios and mandatory overtime rules impact patient care directly. Even simple pay raises helps to increase staffing, and influences career choices on college bound students.
A minor yet pertinent question, are strike workers travelers? We say no. Travelers take time limited contracts to help staff with their workload and relieve their burden. Strike workers work against the goals of staff to better working conditions and patient safety.
Sure, working a strike for 7 days a week can result in an impressive weekly check. However, working steadily as a traveler will result in much more consistent annual earnings. And you won't be undermining your professional peers, instead you will be supporting them.
As a final thought, this well written message by one of our members was recently posted on a traveler forum and illustrates that even thoughtful people may have conflicting feelings about strike nursing. Excerpted here with permission: