Nurses at 2 Providence hospitals authorize strikes

Nurses at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City, Ore., and Providence Milwaukie (Ore.) Hospital have voted nearly unanimously to authorize strikes, according to the union that represents them.

The votes launched May 23 and ran through June 2.

With the votes, nurses at Providence Willamette Falls and Providence Milwaukie join nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., who voted to authorize a strike in May. All three hospitals are part of Renton, Wash.-based Providence.

The union cited workers' desire for stronger patient safety standards; safe nurse staffing; affordable healthcare and paid leave; and a fair compensation package.

"Every day, nurses are forced to care for twice as many patients as is considered safe. We're standing up for Oregonians and striking for safety. We won't settle for anything less. Oregon patients and their families deserve safe, high-quality, affordable and accessible healthcare," Oregon Nurses Association Executive Committee President at Providence Milwaukie Hospital Peggy Elia, RN, said in a news release shared with Becker's

The Oregon Nurses Association represents 233 nurses at Providence Willamette, 239 nurses at Providence Milwaukie, and 1,600 nurses at Providence St. Vincent. Contracts at Providence St. Vincent and Providence Willamette expired last year. Providence Milwaukie's contract expired in May.  

The strike authorization votes do not mean strikes will occur. It gives the union the ability to give the hospital a 10-day notice. If a notice is issued, strikes could be averted if a deal is reached.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Providence expressed disappointment about the strike authorization votes and called them "premature."

Meanwhile, "we are eager to continue dialogue with ONA as we work to find mutually agreeable solutions. Since contracts are settled at the bargaining table, we encourage the union to avoid a costly strike for our nurses," the statement said.

If a strike does occur at any of the hospitals, Providence has a comprehensive plan that ensures continued access to high-quality care for patients, the health system said.

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