Striking Oregon Nurses Turn to Legal Action

EUGENE, Ore. — Striking nurses who have stood in a picket line outside the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services offices in Springfield since February 10 have filed an unfair labor practice charge against their employer. They say PeaceHealth is refusing to meet and negotiate their wage claims.


Striking Oregon Home Care Nurses Want Better Pay and Working Conditions

More than 90 members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), who have been on strike for the last nine days, are now turning their attention to the courts to solve their wage dispute. They are accusing PeaceHealth of failing to negotiate in good faith for their demands for better pay and improved working conditions.

ONA alleges that PeaceHealth canceled a meeting on January 23 after receiving a notice about the strike four days earlier. ONA also says that PeaceHealth has turned down several approaches by the organization to negotiate terms to end the strike action.

PeaceHealth’s reaction to ONA’s approaches is described as “disappointing” by Jo Turner, ONA chairperson and local hospice nurse. “We are not hard to find,” says Turner, adding that the picket line is only 50 yards from the PeaceHealth office doors. ONA nurses have made it clear more than once that they are willing to meet with PeaceHealth officials anywhere and at any time to end the strike.

PeaceHealth officials deny that they are refusing to return to the negotiation table. In a written statement, they state that they are keen to resume negotiations and express the hope that they can reach an agreement “that will make our home care nurses proud.”


Home Care Nurses Partner With Their Patients

Before going on strike, the nurses had continued working even though their contracts had expired in April last year. They are striking for better wages, improved safety measures, and increased recruitment and retention. The nurses provide home care and hospice services in Eugene and surrounding areas.

In a recent interview strike organizer Heather Herbert, who previously worked as a nurse in a hospital OR and on the oncology floor, says that home care nurses employed by PeaceHealth can form close associations with patients because they often work with the same people for several years.

She describes home nursing as “intimate”, pointing out that hospice patients are often scared. Nurses must partner with them in the last chapter of their lives and try to make it the best chapter in their lives.


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