Strike FAQ

What is a strike?

A strike is a lawful withholding of our labor that follows the required steps of the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act.

Who determines if we go on strike?

A strike is democratically voted on by the members.

Can I strike if I’m an international postdoc? Will it affect my visa?

International postdocs can participate in any lawful labor action like a strike. You are still an employee while on a strike which does not affect your visa status. Retaliation of any kind is unlawful. Postdocs have gone on strike at universities across the nation, which involved international postdocs. The results were significant improvements to their working conditions.

Can I be fired for going on strike?

Under federal law, you cannot be fired for participating in a protected strike or picketing against your employer. Postdocs have gone on strike at universities across the nation. The results were significant improvements to their working conditions.

Can my PI change my authorship position if I go on strike?

No, Changing your previously agreed authorship order on a manuscript in response to your participation in a strike is retaliation and is illegal.

What makes a successful strike?

Preparation, education, and a formidable strike threat. We can pose a credible strike threat if we are united in our public actions. Postdocs have gone on strike at universities across the nation. The results were significant improvements to their working conditions.

Will I keep my benefits while I’m on strike?

Benefits enrollment are on a monthly basis and we can plan strikes for after the first of the month to retain those benefits. OHSU may choose to offer extending benefits for the following months.

Are there any duties that our union is allowing during a strike?

A successful strike depends on the impact of withholding our labor in order to pose a credible strike threat. We are however flexible on the following items:

  • Conference travel that is already booked and paid for
  • Manuscript revisions with publisher-imposed deadlines
  • Grant submissions where you are the PI (e.g. career development and training fellowship awards)
  • Teaching/speaking engagements that are not hosted by OHSU (i.e. adjunct lectures at another institution, invited talk at institution or conference)
  • Applying for other jobs

What if I cannot afford to lose wages?

AFSCME and the PWU will have a strike hardship fund. Postdocs must participate in at least 20 hours of strike duty per week (e.g. 5, 4-hour picket line shifts) to be eligible for strike hardship funds. Activity must be confirmed with in-person sign in with a strike captain.

Are there other ways to support our union?

The best way to avoid a strike is to prepare for a strike by participating in union actions and recruiting your postdoc colleagues to participate.

Do I have to tell my PI I am going on strike/do I have to arrange others in the lab to cover the work I won't be able to do?

You are not required to tell your PI that you are going on strike. Our union will give OHSU the proper notice to strike. You may not be disciplined for walking out or not showing up when the strike begins.

How long will we go on strike?

Your bargaining team determines the best strategy for carrying out a strike, once a strike authorization vote passes.

What’s required of me during a strike?

At its core, a strike simply requires the withholding of your labor. First, it means not crossing the picket line and not going to work. (This applies to remote workers, too!) In addition, members should plan on walking the picket line (daily, ideally), attending rallies, participating in digital actions, etc. Being on strike isn’t a vacation from work — it’s working together to secure a contract that protects our patients, coworkers and livelihoods. Non-members are also allowed and encouraged to go out on strike.

How much notice would we have before a strike starts?

Our bargaining must give 10 days notice to OHSU. This can be done at any time once a strike authorization passes.

Can we still use FMLA/OFLA while on strike?

For those who qualify, yes. FMLA/OFLA is protected leave that you are still able to use while on strike.

What happens if the membership votes against ratifying the proposed contract settlement?

If we reach a settlement before going on strike, the ratification vote will ask members to either (a) ratify the contract or (b) give the employer a 10-day notice to strike. Essentially, by rejecting a proposed settlement, the membership would be starting the countdown to a strike.

What happens when we go back to work after a strike?

Generally, when a strike ends, the union and the employer put together a return-to-work agreement that lays out this process. The details would be communicated out to our bargaining unit.

What should I do with my live test subjects if we choose to strike?

It’s OHSU’s responsibility to make sure that any basic lab maintenance happens during a strike. There are also ways that you can prepare for a potential strike. These plans could include advance-planning your experiments or informing supervisors that they may need to make alternative plans to take care of these subjects.

Isn’t going on strike only hurting ourselves because our research would suffer?

While participating in a strike will require all of us to make sacrifices, this action also gives Postdocs the collective power to ensure that OHSU reaches a fair agreement with us. A contract that provides vital improvements to our pay, benefits, and workplace rights would also make OHSU more equitable, inclusive, and competitive with other major research institutions, and this will in turn improve research at OHSU.