Home Care Nurses Take To The Streets To Picket For Better Pay
EUGENE, Ore. — Almost 100 nurses employed by PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services are on strike for more money. Their action follows months of failed negotiations. The nurses want more money and an improvement in safety standards. The striking nurses provide hospice and other essential home care services in the Eugene and Springfield areas.
Nurses Have Been Working Under Expired Contracts For Nearly A Year
Hospice-trained home caregivers are staging a 10-day strike after working under contracts that expired last April. The nurses are members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).
ONA says 30 nurses left PeaceHealth in 2023 because of inequitable pay and safety standards.
Good and well-qualified nurses are leaving PeaceHealth because they can receive better paychecks elsewhere, says ONA organizer Heather Herbert.
PeaceHealth Claims Its Nurses Are Well Paid
PeaceHealth claims that its home care nurses earn up to 2.9% more than their counterparts. Under its proposed new contract, this figure will rise immediately to 8% above the current market, says PeaceHealth.
While the nurses continue to strike, PeaceHealth will focus on delivering high-quality, safe patient care. Pay rise negotiations will resume at a later date. It the interim, PeaceHealth has entered an agency contract to fill temporary caregiving positions to continue providing uninterrupted patient care.
Representatives, Union Organizers and Advocates Join Picket Line
The 100-strong picket line outside PeaceHealth’s Springfield offices included representatives, union organizers, and advocates.
The Mayor of Eugene, Lucy Vinis, said if nurses had to fight for essential benefits to pay their rent, take care of children, and put food on the table, the system was “unsustainable.”
Representative Travis Nelson, D-District 44, a registered nurse who worked for PeaceHealth in 2012, said nurses who had worked for PeaceHealth for over a decade had been witnesses to declining standards. He claims the focus of attention is now on profit more than patient care.
40 Unsuccessful Bargaining Sessions
The striking nurses have attended 40 unsuccessful bargaining sessions with PeaceHealth officials since last year April. They cite declining wages, support, and benefits in their demands for fair contracts. The scheduled date for ending the strike is February 24, but organizers say they are willing to strike beyond that date if their demands are unsuccessful. The nurses, however, remain hopeful that the strike will not be prolonged and voiced their desire to get back to work.
PeaceHealth provides homecare specialized nurses in palliative, hospice, and home health care. Their service makes life easier for families whose loved ones suffer from life-threatening and long-term illnesses. The nurses specialize in support services following disabilities, hospitalization, surgery, injury, and ill health.
There are about 500 local patients making use of these nursing services.
This is the first time in 40 years that nurses in the Eugene-Springfield area have gone on strike.