Social Policy: Hard Bargaining in Las Vegas Hospitals

This was originally published in Social Policy, Spring 2013, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p30

This was originally published in Social Policy, Spring 2013, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p30

The Desert Springs contract had now expired. This was a big deal. Under U.S. labor law, when a contract expires, four dangerous things happen: workers can strike; the employer can lock workers out; the employer can stop collecting union membership dues from the workers’ paychecks; and the “permanent window” period for decertifying the union begins. In short, everything escalates. Shutting down dues collection is a major escalation and creates an immediate crisis. It rarely happens. Unions have to fight for contracts that stipulate that the employer deduct union dues from the paychecks of the union members and forward the money to the union. This is the money that keeps things running, and a union can find itself suddenly bankrupt if a large employer stops collecting dues. And a strike, well, a strike is another order of magnitude entirely. And a strike in a hospital, well, that had never happened in the history of Las Vegas.

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