Oregon hospital nurses avert strike with 'historic wage increases'

Members of the Oregon Nurses Association have called off their planned strike after reaching a tentative agreement with St. Charles Bend.

The union represents about 1,000 nurses at the hospital, according to a news release from the ONA. St. Charles Bend is part of St. Charles Health System, a four-hospital organization with more than 4,300 caregivers.

Union members voted to authorize a strike in May and subsequently issued a 10-day strike notice. The union and hospital began negotiating a new labor contract in December. During negotiations, both parties worked to reach a tentative deal by the June 12 strike deadline. A tentative agreement was reached on June 8. 

"It has been clear since the beginning of our negotiations that the nurses of St. Charles were laser-focused on three core issues," Erin Harrington, RN, chair of the St. Charles Bargaining Unit Executive Committee, said in the union release. "Move St. Charles management to a contract that will recruit new nurses to work at our hospital, retain the excellent nurses who already work here, and respect nurses by protecting their legal right to rest and meal breaks, and ensuring we keep our jobs should St. Charles be sold. This agreement does all of these things and more."

Union members must still approve the tentative agreement for it to be finalized. If approved, the agreement will include "historic wage increases which are key to the recruitment of new nurses," the ONA said. 

According to the union, the tentative agreement includes the following provisions related to pay:

  • The hourly starting base wage for a nurse holding a BSN will increase nearly $17 over the life of the contract.
  • The average base wage for nurses currently on steps 1 through 5 will increase by 48 percent over the life of the contract, including steps and negotiated increases to the wage scale.  

The union said the contract also includes significant pay raises for nurses on higher steps within the wage scale; additional contract protections related to rest and meal breaks; and assurances that nurses will receive their breaks or will receive payments when their breaks are missed. 

Becker's reached out to St. Charles for comment and will update this story if a comment is received.

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