PeaceHealth hospice, home health nurses set to strike

Springfield, Ore.-based PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services nurses intend to launch a two-week strike in February, according to the Oregon Nurses Association.

Eugene and Springfield, Ore., home care and hospice nurses notified the system of their intent to strike Jan. 19, with the strike to begin Feb. 1 and end Feb. 14. 

"We respect our caregivers' rights to engage in lawful union negotiation activities," PeaceHealth said in a statement shared with Becker's. "However, we are deeply disappointed that the union has chosen to strike as we have offered highly competitive proposals that would provide wage improvements either at or beyond market rate. PeaceHealth has successfully negotiated four other long-term union contracts over the last 12 months, providing wage increases and stability for nearly 3,000 caregivers in Lane County. We value our caregivers, their professionalism and commitment to our patients — and a planned strike does not change that."

The Oregon Nurses Association has held 40 bargaining sessions with PeaceHealth since negotiations began in February. Nurses have been working under their old contract, which expired in April, and nearly 25% of home care nurses have left the agency, the ONA told the newspaper. An additional one-third of the current nurses plan to leave in the next year if they do not reach a fair contract.

"All we're asking for is dignity, respect, and equal pay for the essential care we provide to vulnerable, home-bound patients and their families every day," Jo Turner, a hospice nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, said in a union news release. "Our patients and our community suffer when their caregivers are ignored, exploited, and underpaid by PeaceHealth's millionaire executives. We are ready to bargain and ready to strike to win justice for our co-workers, our patients and our community."

PeaceHealth said it has contracted with an agency to provide temporary replacement caregivers to ensure patient care continues uninterrupted during the strike. "This strike will not impact operations at PeaceHealth hospitals and clinics in Lane County," the system's statement said.

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