PeaceHealth nurses authorize 2nd strike

Members of the Oregon Nurses Association at Springfield, Ore.-based PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services have voted to authorize an open-ended strike.

The union represents more than 90 nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, according to an ONA news release shared with Becker's. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services is part of PeaceHealth, a Vancouver, Wash.-based nonprofit Catholic health system serving communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Union members authorized a strike earlier this month. Nurses and PeaceHealth executives have been in negotiations for a new labor contract since February 2023. Nurses also held a limited-duration strike in February. 

The union contends that since the strike ended, PeaceHealth executives continued demanding nurses accept nearly 5% lower pay than hospital nurses receive in Eugene/Springfield and hospital and home care nurses in Florence. It also contends there is a retention problem because of inadequate working conditions. "I voted yes to strike because I feel it is important for me to advocate for myself, my colleagues and my community. We deserve equal pay for equal work and our community needs a robust home care services team that can provide the care it needs," Cathy Smith, ONA member and nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, said in the union release. 

PeaceHealth expressed disappointment about the strike authorization vote.

"Our goal throughout these negotiations has been to provide significant wage increases for our nurses, and we have provided ONA with proposals that support this goal," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's.

"Our current proposal to ONA is above the market rate for home care nurses in Eugene/Springfield and includes a 6% raise in the first year of the contract, 3.5% in the second year, 3.5% in the third year and 3% in the fourth year … in addition to numerous other one-time increases."

PeaceHealth also emphasized its commitment to sustainable, high-quality care and said its most recent proposal "goes beyond the market rate while also positioning us for the future."

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