PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Monday morning, 1,300 workers from the tech and service units at PeaceHealth Southwest and the lab professional unit at PeaceHealth St. John will begin to strike, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) announced Sunday.
This comes after the union formally announced a strike notice on October 13. The union says many of the PeaceHealth workers are members of OFNHP, AFT Local 5017, AFL-CIO have been in contract negotiations for months without an agreement.
“This strike was caused by management’s unwillingness to pay their workers living wages, fix short staffing, or address the issues that threaten the future of patient care,” says Jonathon Baker, OFNHP’s President and a Lab Professional at PeaceHealth St. John.
“Instead of trying to solve these problems, they canceled our bargaining sessions and are choosing terminate the healthcare insurance that these workers depend on,” Baker continued. “This is a cruel form of collective punishment directed at a group of healthcare workers they previously called ‘heroes’ when they were saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
OFNHP said in a press release that picket lines will begin at 6:30 a.m. on October 23 and will run until 7:00 p.m. daily through Friday, October 27. They will be held at both PeaceHealth Southwest in Vancouver and PeaceHealth St. John in Longview. Workers will be prepared to return to work on Saturday, October 28.
The union says they are “ready to re-enter negotiations with management at any time and intend to stay on the picket line until a satisfactory agreement is reached.”
In a statement shared with KOIN 6 News, PeaceHealth stated, in part:
“As is standard practice, PeaceHealth has contracted with an agency to provide temporary replacement caregivers during the strike. We will also assign appropriate non-union staff to supplement our staffing needs, where possible.
PeaceHealth at all times respect the rights of our caregivers to participate in this and other lawful activities. However, we are deeply disappointed that the union has chosen to strike.
We remain committed to good-faith bargaining in order to reach an agreement that is competitive, fair and provides total reward enhancements for our caregivers. To date we have proposed highly competitive compensation packages that ensure our pay rates are at or above market rates.
Meanwhile, our communities can be assured that PeaceHealth has taken responsible steps to ensure we are able to deliver the same safe, high-quality care our patients and families have come to expect from us every day.”
Stay with KOIN 6 News as this story develops.