PeaceHealth workers scale back strike to safeguard their health insurance

Members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT Local 5017, are set to begin a five-day strike Oct. 23 at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash., instead of the originally planned open-ended walkout, according to The Oregonian.

The strategic shift follows PeaceHealth's announcement earlier this month that striking union members could lose their employer-paid health insurance subsidy if the strike took place and carried into November.

The health system said its employer-paid subsidy for striking caregivers would cease Nov. 1 if the strike were still taking place at that time. This would affect those who would no longer be eligible because they would no longer be working in the hospital. 

Now the workers at Southwest and St. John medical centers have decided to strike for just five days in order to neutralize the risk of losing their health insurance, according to The Oregonian.

The union represents about 1,300 service and maintenance and tech healthcare workers at Southwest Medical Center and the lab professionals at St. John Medical Center, according to a news release from OFNHP. Both medical centers are part of Vancouver-based PeaceHealth, a nonprofit health system with medical centers, critical access hospitals and medical clinics in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. 

PeaceHealth said it has brought in replacement workers to "ensure the uninterrupted delivery of safe patient care" during the strike, according to The Oregonian.

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