FAQ on Union Strikes

Going on strike is a very serious matter. Every day on strike is a day without pay. But it might be the only way to get a decent raise, one that will help all PCC employees afford a decent standard of living. And the only way for a strike to be successful is if the union members stick together and refuse to work. 

Some people will say “I can’t go on strike because I have bills to pay.” We all have bills to pay. Strikes are painful, there is no getting around that. But if we are all in it together, we have a much better chance of making it pay off with a contract that provides you with fair pay. 

What is a strike?

A strike happens when workers collectively vote to withhold their labor, usually due to the failure to reach a satisfactory agreement in contract bargaining. 

Going on strike can be a slow process. First we’d have official mediation. Then we’d have consultation and a vote by members, which would set a strike date.

Will I get paid while on strike?

No. But our union is discussing ways to help members pay bills during a strike.

What’s mediation? 

Mediation is a process where an independent mediator from the state Employment Relations Board (ERB) meets separately with each side, helping them examine their bottom line and figure out what movement they can make to reach agreement with the other side. This usually leads to an agreement, but how far management is willing to move is greatly influenced by the union’s solidarity. If we actively and visibly support the union bargaining team (now and even if we enter mediation) then we have a better chance of leaving mediation with a good contract. 

What can I do now to avoid a strike?

Continue to show solidarity with your coworkers, participate in workplace and campus actions, and if there is a strike vote, then vote in favor of a strike. Our bargaining team would not ask for a strike vote if we didn’t think it was necessary. Just because you vote in favor of a strike doesn’t mean it will happen! The strike vote is a way for the union to determine how much support there would be for a strike if we had one. If a majority of the members vote not to strike, then we will know that striking is not an option and we may have to accept whatever deal management has put on the table. 

What happens to students?

Classes will have to be cancelled. But many other teachers unions have gone on strike. Part of what we are fighting for is to have the financial support and college structures to do better and more for our students. In many cases, the community has supported striking teachers, including recently in Los Angeles.

Can anyone be fired or replaced for striking?

You cannot be disciplined for participating in a lawful strike. And even though management has the right to permanently replace striking workers, PCCFFAP would not agree to a settlement unless all striking members are returned to their jobs.  

Can I use vacation time or sick leave so I get paid during a strike?

No.

Can I collect unemployment benefits while on strike?

No. 

What happens if you cross the picket line? 

You greatly weaken our chances to win a good contract, which means you weaken your chances of getting a decent raise.  The success of a strike depends on everyone sticking together. 

Who decides to conduct a strike?

The union members. Our bargaining team will conduct a strike authorization vote and all dues-paying members will have the right to vote on whether or not to go on strike.

Who can vote?

All members in good standing. Non-dues payers may sign a membership card at any time and become eligible to vote.

Who can strike?

All members, non-dues payers and probationary employees in the bargaining unit may strike.

How long would a strike last?

That’s up to the union members. During the course of a strike the union bargaining team will continue to try and reach agreement with management. Usually a strike ends when the membership votes to accept a proposal from management. 

Are all members expected to walk a picket line?

Yes. A strong picket line is absolutely necessary for a strike to be successful. If there is a strike, there will be rotating shifts so there are always a lot of people on the line.  For those with health conditions that make it difficult or impossible to walk the line, the union will make accommodations.