ONA Nurses at Medford Providence Hospital Asked to Negotiate and Not Strike

MEDFORD, Ore. — Talking beats walking says Providence Medford Medical Center (PMMC) in response to possible strike action by its Oregon Nursing Association (ONA) registered nurses.

UPDATE: 3,000 Providence Hospital Nurses Will Stage The Largest-Ever Strike In Oregon

ONA has been negotiating for a 34% wage increase and the PMMC has responded with a 22.76% increase which they say is “extremely competitive” for the region.


Nurses Have Until May 28 to Vote for Strike Action

Now, Providence Medford nurses registered with ONA have been given a strike authorization period from May 18 to 28 in which to vote for strike action if a pay rise deal is deadlocked.

PMMCs latest wage proposal has been described as an ultimatum by Vicki Knudsen, bargaining unit chair of the ONA registered Providence Medford nurses. Knudsen says the pay rise proposal fails to match market value or to keep the structure in line with other Providence hospitals in the region. She says the Medford nurses pay structure has lagged other Providence hospitals for the last three contracts.


Pay Rise Offer Will Not Be Extended Beyond May

The Medford nurses have until the end of the month to accept the 22.76% pay rise and if the nurses opt for strike action it will change the bargaining dynamics, says the PMMC in its statement. The ONA registered nurses are also told that the pay rise offer will not be available after end-May.

“We want to stress that this is our best offer,” says the PMMC, which maintains that its goal is to ensure that the nurses receive fair compensation.

The pay rise proposal is an average of 22.76% during the first year which raises the current $10.39 an hour structure to $12.92. A further six per cent increase is offered over the next two years.

The PMMC says this is the best pay structure offered in the Medford market, “alongside our existing best-in-market benefits package.”


Possible Strike Action by Consolidating Forces State-Wide

Rather than settling, it seems that the Ona registered nurses will seek a solution by consolidating forces at a meeting with their counterparts in Portland next month. Knudsen says Providence has repeatedly ignored improving standards, but by joining forces with all six Providence ONA registered nurses across the state, the nurses will have the clout to leverage improvements for patient care.

The nurses are dissatisfied with the Medford hospital’s ability to retain staff. Knudsen says newly trained nurses leave to go to hospitals that offer better wages, healthcare, and retirement benefits.

Knudsen says Providence has separated its ONA registered nurses “for far too long,” but with a centralized mediation system they hope to improve patient care and the lives of nurses and caregivers by resolving a better deal.

However, Providence Medford Chief Nursing Officer Kate Kitchell remains optimistic that a deal can be struck without strike action. She says the PMMC is confident that it has offered a highly competitive wage proposal based on local market conditions. The PMMC has also stated its willingness to continue negotiations before the month-end deadline.

“That’s how deals get done. Talking beats walking,” says Kitchell, adding that the PMMC would rather schedule more negotiation sessions “to get the deal done.”

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