PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nurses at Oregon’s largest hospital announced late Monday morning they have voted in favor of giving their bargainers the power to call a strike.

More than 3,100 OHSU nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association announced the results of their strike authorization vote as they held a rally on the South Waterfront.

The potential strike comes after OHSU and Legacy Health announced plans to merge into one organization, which will involve more than 32,000 employees.

Some nurses say they already have health, safety and staffing concerns, and add they want to make sure those concerns are addressed, especially if this merger is approved.

“It’s safety. I’m tired of us being threatened. I’m tired of nurses being assaulted,” said Justina Lynch, who’s been an OHSU nurse for 24 years, “I have personally seen other nurses assaulted. I’ve been attacked myself. I’m sick of it. There is no reason why we should be unsafe at work.”

OHSU says both sides are continuing talks, and pointed KOIN 6 News to its latest proposal, which notes a $10 million investment in safety, and calls for across-the-board increases of 15% in the first year.

As far as what’s next, both sides will have to agree on a day to continue negotiating with a state mediator. They have already met more than 30 times over the past several months. At any point, the union can now give a ten day notice it is calling a strike. Time enough for the hospital to stop admissions, cancel surgeries and transfer patients.

The last OHSU nurses strike occurred over 20 years ago and lasted almost 2 months.

More to come. Stay with KOIN 6 News as this story develops.