Under the law as it is, the choice is clear. If you think patients are at risk, give up the strike and reach an agreement for an orderly time to strike. As Calvin Coolidge said in regard to a police strike, “There is no right to strike against the public interest.” President Reagan was accused of being anti-union for firing the air controllers. It was not an anti-union decision. It was upholding the law against government employees who not only do not have a right to strike, but sign an agreement acknowledging this.
The underlying problem is that in the case of nurses and other types of employees, we have a statute and policy that was written in contemplation of the industrial and commercial world being applied to situations for which it was not intended. This leads to situations that are not in the interest of anyone. If health care employees are to have a protected right to strike, there need to be special provisions, such as mandatory mediation, a “cooling off period” and mandatory mediation of transitioning patient care.
Meanwhile, it is not for an administrative agency or a court to rewrite the law as passed by congress. Hard cases make bad law.
Our national labor policy creates an adversarial relationship among employers, unions and employees which is especially unfortunate when applied to health care. It is important that employees have a voice, either directly or through a union or other organization. We need to scrap the present system and start over in the light of experience and present considerations.
I spent 10 years dealing with labor relations in the health care industry, preceded by 26 years with a wide variety of enterprises, large and small.
Our labor laws are overly complex, counter intuitive and not in the public interest. They are, however, a bonanza for lawyers and consultants.
I totally sympathize with your concerns.