News & Events

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about a Strike

Below you will find a series of frequently asked questions we received from members about a potential strike at Morton Hospital. If you have a question that has not been addressed here, contact a member of our negotiating committee, or email either Louise Nunley at; or David Schildmeier, Director of the MNA’s communications division, at and we will get you an answer.

Are we going to strike?
The decision to strike or not to strike is entirely up to the membership. Under MNA bylaws, should your committee decide a strike is necessary, it must conduct a vote of the membership by secret ballot, which, if successful, will authorize the committee to issue the official ten-day notice that we will be going out on strike. At this point, we are still hoping to reach an agreement with management to avoid the need to hold a strike authorization vote. However, if management continues with its plan to violate federal labor law and unilaterally takes away your pension on March 31, as well as continues to refuse to agree to strict limits on mandatory overtime, then the committee may need to schedule a strike vote. If that becomes necessary, every effort will be made to ensure that you will have ample notice of the vote.

Is it legal for us to strike?
Yes. Going on strike is a legally protected activity. You cannot be disciplined or terminated for engaging in a legal strike.  Additionally, no action can be taken against your professional license for participation in a strike. 

Does a vote to authorize a strike mean we are going out on strike immediately?
No. The vote gives the MNA Negotiating Committee the authority to call for a strike if necessary. If the hospital comes to the negotiating table and engages in a good faith effort to reach a settlement, specifically on the key issues of mandatory overtime and protection of your pension, we will continue to work toward an agreement. However, if management continues to refuse to provide substantive movement on the outstanding issues, the committee would then have the authority to issue its official notice of our intention to strike.

How is the strike vote calculated, is it a percentage of all members or just those voting?
The vote to authorize a strike is based on the total of all those WHO VOTE. If you want your voice heard on this issue, you must show up and cast a vote. Under our bylaws, a simple majority vote can authorize a strike, but a successful strike requires overwhelming support from the membership. Whatever your opinion on this action, again, make sure you cast your vote. 

If we give our official notice to strike, how and when would we actually strike (with signs and all)?
Once we issue our official strike notice, management will then have ten days before the strike will begin.  Even if we issue a strike notice, we will make every effort to continue negotiating throughout the ten-day period to reach a settlement. And just because we have given a ten-day notice, does not mean we have to strike in ten days. If we are making progress, we can delay a strike action to give us the opportunity to reach a settlement

The MNA typically calls for strikes to begin at 6 a.m.  On the morning of the strike, all nurses and health professionals currently on duty will give report to their supervisors and walk out of the hospital together. Remember, your union would have given the hospital the ten days’ notice required by law. It is the hospital’s responsibility to have someone available to assume responsibility for your patients. At previous strikes, the Department of Public Health (DPH) placed members of its staff in the hospital to ensure that the patients receive a minimum level of care. Nurses cannot be charged with patient abandonment for leaving at the time the strike begins. All other members of the bargaining unit will be assembled outside the hospital with picket signs to greet them and officially begin the strike.

Who participates in the strike?
All employees in the bargaining unit (all those covered by the contract – regular, full-time, part-time, per diems and probationary employees) are expected to participate in the strike. Other unions may support the strike but are bound by the terms of their contracts to continue to do work for the hospital. However, many unions will attempt to honor the picket lines.

Can I lose my job or have my job changed after the strike?
The strike will not end unless and until we have a written “back to work” agreement that guarantees each member of the bargaining unit the right to return to the same job (shift, hours, unit), which they had prior to the strike. This has been the result in previous strikes waged by the MNA.

What is the time commitment for us—picketing weekly?
A picketing committee will be formed and will determine specific picketing commitments. In previous strikes, each union member was typically expected to picket 12 hours-per-week, with picketing scheduled in four-hour shifts. Picketing commitments can be fulfilled by family members, friends and other surrogates. Exceptions would be made for personal circumstances.

For those who can’t picket because of a physical disability or other reasons, there are a number of other jobs you can fill to support the strike.

What is appropriate picket line conduct? 
Since you are conducting a strike-line picket, you will need to keep moving while on the line and you must have a picket sign (signs will be available at the strike office).  Picket where the picket captain designates.  This will include all entrances and driveways.  Stay orderly and do not block emergency vehicles or U.S. Postal trucks.  Do not block or interfere with patients’ families, friends or visitors.  Always check with the picket captain if there are problems. 

During the strike, where do we go for information and who will be available to answer our questions?
We will set up strike headquarters near the hospital. During the strike, this office will be staffed around the clock with your committee members and MNA staff to answer any and all questions about the strike.

Should we set up a telephone tree on each unit so we can keep in touch and offer support to each other and pass around information?
Absolutely. We encourage members of each unit to stay connected and to communicate with each other throughout the strike. We advise you to share your phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure that you share you email address with Louise Nunley at, as well as with the MNA strike headquarters so everyone can stay informed about developments during the strike. We also encourage units, when possible, to arrange to picket together, which is another way to stay connected and to offer mutual support.

The local bargaining unit leadership will also keep you informed through email blasts, publishing information on the MNA/Morton Hospital web page on the MNA web site, and through weekly open meetings for the entire membership. These meetings are an important source to obtain the latest information, to ask questions, and for all of us to come together to support each other throughout the strike.

Health insurance – How long are we covered when a strike notice is given to the hospital? Does our insurance stop immediately? How do we sign up for COBRA?
You maintain your health insurance as is until the strike begins and you stop working. At some point, hospital administration will send you a letter notifying you that your coverage will cease as of a specific date. The letter will inform you that you are eligible to continue your coverage under the COBRA law.

COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. (COBRA) requires employers with group health plans to offer employees the opportunity to continue temporarily with their group health care coverage under their employer’s plan if their coverage otherwise would cease due to termination, layoff, or other changes in employment status (referred to as "qualifying events"). A strike is a qualifying event.

You will keep your current insurance plan; however, you will be required to pay for the coverage yourself.

You have 90 days to decide if you wish to file for benefits under COBRA; and if you do file at anytime during this period, the coverage will revert back to the first day your were cut off by the hospital. 

The cost of benefits under COBRA is 103 percent of the full insurance premium (your portion plus the hospital’s portion plus a three percent administrative charge). The benefits under COBRA are the same as you received while not on strike – you are paying to keep the same coverage.  For more information on COBRA benefits, visit or or call 866.444.3272.

If you have a spouse or someone who can cover you under their insurance plan, a strike may be a qualifying event allowing for mid-year (not during open enrollment) changes in coverage.

When we strike, do I qualify for unemployment insurance? And unemployment health insurance?
We strongly encourage every member to apply for unemployment insurance on the first day of the strike. You can either go to an office near you or phone between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  If calling from area codes 351, 413, 508, 774, or 978 call 877.626.6800. If you are phoning from any other area code call. 617.626.6800.  Press 1 to file a new UI Claim, and you will be asked to provide your social security number and date of birth before being transferred to a Department of Unemployment Agent (DUA) to file your claim.

While we cannot guarantee eligibility, striking workers in Massachusetts have received unemployment benefits based on the fact that the strike did not substantially curtail normal opoerations. In fact, the nurses at St. Vincent Hospital and Brockton Hospital did qualify for unemployment during their strikes in 2000 and 2001. 

What should I say when I am applying for unemployment? 
State that you are an RN or health professional from Morton Hospital and that you are out of work.  If the DUA states that you are not eligible, simply request that the claim be filed and allow the state to make a determination on your claim.  The agency has a Web site that may be useful –

After that, you need to call every Sunday to let them know that you are still not working (if this is the case) and want to keep your claim open. 

Will the MNA help us find per diem or temporary employment?
The MNA works with different temporary employment agencies that are ready and willing to help you find per diem work during the strike.  If a strike vote becomes necessary, we will make sure that we provide you with specific information about agencies working with us to help find you work.

The MNA will also organize job fairs for nurses and health professionals, either at open meetings held during the strike or at the strike headquarters. Check our Web page for notices regarding these events.

Will MNA help me with writing a resume?
Absolutely. We will have staff available at open meetings and will schedule specific days and times at the strike office to provide support with resume writing. The MNA will also provide free ACLS certification training for those who need it.

Will the MNA offer support to members who experience financial hardship during the strike?
The MNA has a strike fund and your local bargaining unit will be initiating a fundraising campaign to generate significant resources to provide support for those members who may need special assistance during the strike. A special committee will be formed to evaluate individual requests and distribute funds to individual members. Members eligible for these contributions, are expected to fulfill their picketing commitment for the strike.

What happens if I have been approved for a vacation that is scheduled after the strike begins?
If you have already put in for vacation time and it was approved, then the hospital is obligated to pay you for that time, even if you are on strike.

Will I be required to pay MNA dues while on strike?

What should I do if I’m currently on Worker’s Comp?
You should know that your worker’s compensation payments will continue even though there is a strike.  However, you shouldn’t participate on the picket line, but should help out in other ways.