Court Enjoins Strike by California Nurses Association; Minnesota Nurses Authorize Strike

Nurse-patient staffing ratios continue to be a contentious bargaining issue across the country.  Earlier this month, the Minnesota Nursing Association, part of the National Nurses United (NNU), called the largest nursing strike in U.S. history to protest staffing ratios.  The California Nurses Association (CNA), also part of the NNU attempted to join in the one-day strike, but a San Francisco judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking their participation. 

Undaunted, the CNA returned to court for a full hearing to determine whether or not its nurses have a right to strike for better staffing ratios.  The University of California (UC) argued that the threatened strike was illegal because California law bars pre-impasse strikes by public employees and because the UC-CNA collective bargaining agreement prohibits strikes during the term of a contract.

After a lengthy argument on June 18, 2010, a San Francisco judge agreed with UC and enjoined the CNA from striking UC medical centers.  The injunction effectively extends the previously issued temporary restraining order against the CNA and prohibits the union from striking until the expiration of the current contract or the expiration of post-impasse proceedings, whichever is later.  While the staffing ratio issue is unlikely to simmer down, UC has a temporary reprieve from threatened strike activity.      

Meanwhile, thousands of Minnesota nurses voted Monday to authorize another strike if progress is not made in their continuing negotiations with 14 Twin Cities hospitals.  No date was set for the strike, and the union is required to give 10 days notice before the walk out.  The next strike, the union stated, in an effort to exert pressure on the hospitals and strengthen the union’s bargaining position, would be of indefinite duration. 

This entry was written by Carie Torrence.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.