2023 has seen a significant rise in nursing strikes, with more and more nurses utilizing their unionizations to fight for better pay and safer working conditions for both patients and staff.
The following is a list of current and pending nursing strikes, as well as pre-strike pickets and rallies:
Current, pending and past strikes
- Kaiser Permanente
- Where: California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia and the Washington D.C.
- Why: Unsafe staffing, safety and pay
- Status: Ongoing since October 4, 2023
Recent Pre-Strike Pickets and Rallies:
Past strikes, rallies, and pickets:
Nurses choose to go on strike when they feel they are being treated unfairly as an employee and/or when patient safety is at risk. Only nurses that work at a unionized facility can go on strike. With the assistance of their union, nurses work to negotiate fairer contracts with their employers. Oftentimes, nurses are able to negotiate a better contract without the need to go on strike.
However, sometimes negotiations reach a standstill. When this happens, nurses protest by refusing to go to work until agreeable terms are met. Nurses may authorize a strike for several reasons, including unsafe working conditions (for both nurses and patients), inadequate pay, and poor benefits.
In particular, safer nurse-to-patient ratios have been at the forefront of concerns that have driven recent nursing strike authorizations across the country. The nationwide nursing shortage was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare facilities are still struggling to find enough nurses to fill vacancies.
According to the 2023 State of Nursing Report conducted by Nurse.org, 91% of nurses believe the nursing shortage is getting worse and that burnout, poor working conditions, and inadequate pay are the primary causes. In addition, 79% of nurses said their units are inadequately staffed and 71% said that improving staffing ratios would have the greatest impact on the nursing shortage.
Nurses with union representation are becoming more vocal about these feelings and experiences and are choosing to take action through striking.
Strike nurses are contract nurses who agree to work and care for patients during a planned nursing strike. Contracts can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the length of the strike. Transportation, accommodations, and meals are usually provided, in addition to the nurse’s base salary.
Strike pay is considered a type of crisis pay, so nurses are often paid a premium rate for these contracts. The pay is also guaranteed, even if the strike doesn’t happen. Depending on the facility, replacement RNs can easily make upwards of $100 per hour. Strike contracts aren’t just for RNs, either. LPNs/LVNs can make upwards of $80 per hour and CNAs over $50 per hour.
Strike nursing can be a polarizing situation within the nursing community. For example, some nurses believe patient care should always come first and patients do not deserve to suffer due to a strike. Other nurses believe taking a strike contract is disrespectful toward the efforts of the striking nurses by relieving some of the pressure on the healthcare facility.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, strike nursing contracts are a reliable way for nurses to make money in a short amount of time. It also doesn’t seem that nursing strikes will be slowing down anytime soon, so the intermittent need for replacement nurses will continue to be present.