Nurses authorize strike in Oregon

After more than seven months of talks, the majority of 1,600 front-line nurses working at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., have voted to authorize a strike, according to the union that represents them.

The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents more than 4,000 front-line nurses working in 10 Providence Oregon facilities, cited concerns about staffing and patient care, as well as the need for affordable healthcare and paid leave for nurses.

"Nurses at St. Vincent are taking a stand to defend their rights, protest Providence's unfair labor practices and protect their patients and co-workers. We've worked hard to find common ground, but Providence refuses to compromise. Nurses won't keep quiet while our communities get worse and worse care from fewer and fewer nurses," Kevyn Paul, RN, chair of the union's labor Cabinet, said in a May 4 news release shared with Becker's

She added: "ONA nurses at Providence have our full support as they stand up and fight to win respect on the job and secure the basic safety standards we need to protect each other and continue caring for our patients."

The strike authorization vote does not mean there will be a strike. It gives the union the ability to give the hospital a 10-day strike notice. If a notice is issued, a strike still could be averted if a deal is reached before the scheduled strike date.

The hospital and the union have been in negotiations for more than seven months.

The hospital has "attempted to negotiate constructively with ONA to deliver a comprehensive pay and benefits package to our nurses," throughout the negotiations, the hospital said in a statement shared with Becker's.

But the union has delayed agreeing to additional negotiation dates and rejected the hospital's offer to use a neutral federal mediator, the hospital said.

"The strike authorization announcement is just the latest attempt to delay meaningful discussion, a move that only serves to prevent our valued nurses from receiving the substantial pay raises and expanded benefits they deserve," Providence St. Vincent said.

A contingency plan is in place if a strike is called, the hospital said.

Bargaining sessions are set for May 10 and May 23. 

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