3,000 Providence Hospital Nurses Will Stage the Largest-Ever Strike in Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. — After 11 unsuccessful wage bargaining sessions, the largest-ever nurses strike in Oregon, involving 3,000 Providence hospital workers, will be staged for three days, starting at 6 a.m. on June 18. The strike involves Providence nurses from hospitals in Medford, Hood River, Milwaukie, Willamette Falls, Newberg, and St. Vincent.

Although six Providence hospitals are earmarked for the strike action, there will be no disruption to patient care and services says Providence Southern Oregon Service Area Chief Executive, Christopher Pizzi.


11th Round of Negotiations Ended in Deadlock

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) has taken the decision to stage a large-scale strike after an unsuccessful 11th round of wage negotiations deadlocked. Providence offered ONA a 22% increase, but the association stands firms on its demand for a 34% wage hike.

See also: ONA Nurses At Medford Providence Hospital Asked To Negotiate And Not Strike

Providence is a $28-billion-dollar organization whose chief executive officer earns $10 million annually, but disregards state laws about nursing staff, says ONA Medford Bargaining Team member, Caroline Allison. “If a billion-dollar organization isn’t going to fight for its nurses, then ONA will,” she says.

Negotiations deadlocked when ONA failed to attain its wage increase demands. The nursing organization is calling on Providence for a fair contract in compliance with the state’s Safe Staffing Law. ONA is also demanding that Providence increases its focus on recruiting, retaining, and respecting frontline nurses and prioritizing affordable, quality healthcare.

The 3,000 nurses who will stage the large-scale strike are presently all working out of contract.


Striking is a Very Serious Process

ONA Executive Director Anne Tan Piazza describes the strike as a “very serious process.” Providence has not shown willingness to make an investment in the community, or for staff wellbeing, says Piazza, adding that Providence is deliberately ‘skirting’ the state’s new nurses staffing requirements.

Piazza points out that while other employers involved in wage disputes opted for continued negotiation rather than strike action, Providence has stated that it will not resume negotiations until after the three-day strike.

Providence’s Christopher Pizzi has confirmed that despite negotiating with ONA since January, a wage agreement could not be reached. He says Providence offered a 22% pay rise but that ONA is ‘insisting’ on 34%. Providence has decided to hold by its 22% offer, which Pizzi described as a ‘market-leading wage.’

But Medford Bargaining Team member Caroline Allison feels that Providence is ‘disrespecting’ its nursing staff. Allison says she joined Providence Medford Hospital four years ago because of its stated values – compassion, dignity, excellence, and integrity.

ONA has now also sent a letter to the Oregon Health Authority in which the organization accuses hospitals across the state of engaging in ‘a coordinated attempt to undermine the law.’ ONA says this flagrant disregard of the provisions of the law worsens patient care and nurses working conditions.

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