If you are a medical traveler there may be occasions when you are called about taking a travel assignment in a hospital where the regular employees have gone on strike. The usual advantage of working strike situations is the higher than normal hourly wage. In fact, there are some travelers that work almost exclusively strike related situations, feeling the rewards more than balance out the disadvantages.
Strike opportunities have some unique qualities. First, be aware you will probably be entering a situation where picketers will view you as the “enemy”, a person who is interfering with their leverage for negotiating a better work contract. It is wise to inquire of your recruiter as to whether picketers in a particular town are allowed to be on the actual hospital grounds during their protests or if they are required to be across the street. This can make a difference in what you will experience as you enter and exit the hospital. The closer protestors are allowed to you, the more disconcerting and even dangerous the situation can potentially be.
I would also suggest you ask whether security personnel will be provided to take you back and forth to the hospital from your hotel (I was transported in a van with several other travelers on a recent strike assignment) as well as accompany you safely into the hospital. Occasionally if the hospital deems it necessary for your safety, you may be housed in the hospital itself and not allowed to travel back and forth to a hotel.
Although your salary will normally be higher, your assignment time could be as brief as two weeks, with an option to renew as the strike continues. Strike situations can last for short or long periods of time and usually end abruptly with a settlement agreement. Normally you will be guaranteed a minimum of hours or shifts that you will be paid even if the strike settles prior to your anticipated assignment end date as long as you have reported for the first day of work (be sure that guarantee is in your contract…written, not verbal!). However, if the strike should settle while you are in route to the assignment or before you report for that first day of work, that guarantee is usually not valid.
In addition, on a strike assignment you may be asked to work longer than normal hours with minimum time off and are often required to share living accommodations, normally a hotel room, with another traveler. While you will be provided food, remember that often the cafeteria staff is on strike too so what you will be provided can be less than wonderful at times.
However, even with all that said, as long as you ask all the right questions in advance and arrive with an understanding of the unique qualities of this particular kind of assignment, you’ll find strike situations can be quite LUCRATIVE and even FUN, especially if you happen to meet up with an interesting “cast of characters” (I did!) that have all arrived to work the strike situation with a good attitude.