3,000+ nurses at 6 Providence facilities to strike

Members of the Oregon Nurses Association are set to begin a three-day strike June 18 at six Providence facilities, in what the union deems the largest nurses' strike in the state's history.

The union represents more than 3,000 nurses at the following facilities, according to an ONA news release:

  • Providence St. Vincent Medical Center (Portland)
  • Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center
  • Willamette Falls Medical Center (Oregon City)
  • Providence Medford (Ore.) Medical Center
  • Providence Hood River (Ore.) Memorial Hospital
  • Providence Milwaukie (Ore.) Hospital

Union members voted to authorize a strike in May. Nurses and management have been in negotiations for new labor contracts "for as long as nine months," according to the release. 

The union contends that in bargaining, hospital management has not responded to their concerns with serious proposals. It says nurses seek commitment to Oregon's Safe Staffing Law; affordable and quality healthcare; and market-competitive pay.

"At Providence Medford, we are facing a staffing crisis, and our nurses are overworked, offered low quality healthcare, and paid less than the current market for nurses in Medford," Caroline Allison, RN, said in the union release. "Adding insult to injury, it has now become clear that Providence appears to be systematically trying to undermine Oregon's Safe Staffing Law."

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed a staffing law for hospitals in August 2023. House Bill 2697 establishes enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios in state statute for various hospital settings and requires hospitals to establish technical staff and service staff staffing committees, meeting specified criteria. This is in addition to staffing committees for registered nurses.

Jennifer Burrows, RN, chief executive of Providence Oregon, shared a statement with Becker's, saying that since negotiations began, management has proposed "substantial wage increases and contract enhancements that our nurses have requested, including adding language related to our new nurse staffing legislation."

She added that "across our six ministries, we have market-competitive offers of approximately 10% increases in the first year of the contracts," and that "we have 23,000 caregivers in Oregon. All those who are benefit-eligible — including me — have access to the same health package."

No additional negotiations are scheduled prior to the conclusion of the strike.

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