PeaceHealth workers rally against 'bullying'

Members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, American Federation of Teachers 5017, staged a rally Oct. 10 against what they called "bullying" at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., according to The Lund Report.

Union members contend they have experienced systemic workplace bullying and harassment that has interfered with their ability to perform their work.

"We are fighting for a safe work environment free of fear for our jobs, retaliation and bullying and a better work-life balance that ensures the health and safety of both the healthcare workers as well as the patients," Kat Spencer, a patient access representative at PeaceHealth in the admitting department, said in a union news release.

Additionally, the union contends patient access representatives have seen significant turnover in the last two years and that many report retaliation from management after voicing concerns.

"There is a nationwide shortage of healthcare workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is acutely affecting PeaceHealth," the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals said in its news release.

"If these workplace conditions are allowed to continue, it could further exacerbate this staffing crisis and spell a disaster for patient care," the news release reads.

In response to the rally, PeaceHealth issued the following statement to The Lund Report: "PeaceHealth is committed to ensuring that the rally does not impact patient care. Our focus remains on providing safe, high-quality and compassionate care to the people in our region. As we've discussed with the union, and consistent with state and federal labor laws, all rally activities must take place outside of the medical center and on neutral spaces, such as public sidewalks."

A rally is not a strike, and workers at hospitals across the country have held rallies and informational picketing. The actions have primarily focused on staffing and working conditions.

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals represents about 900 service-type employees at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, including 43 patient access representatives in the admitting unit, according to The Lund Report. Their current contract expires next year. 

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