PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Over 1000 workers at PeaceHealth Southwest and St. John will vote on authorizing a strike next month, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals announced Tuesday night.
The employees who will be voting on the strike work in the tech, lab, service and maintenance units at the two PeaceHealth locations.
The workers union says they have been in negations with the hospital over the next union contract for months and say that PeaceHealth has shown “no willingness to fix the issues.”
“Management is forcing us to potentially strike simply because they don’t want to pay living wages or take any action to ensure that we have safe staffing levels,” said OFNHP President and PeaceHealth Lab Professional Jonathon Baker. “The reality is that our members are vastly underpaid for the lifesaving care they provide and the staffing issue could be solved by a new contract that offers the kind of compensation that attracts and retains qualified staff.”
The vote will occur between Oct. 2 and Oct. 6. A 10-day notification period will begin if a strike is authorized.
Additionally, workers plan to hold an informational picket at PeaceHealth Southwest at 5 p.m. on Oct. 11.
“Every unit considering a strike action argues that they are making far below market rate, and the Vancouver Tech unit is asking for as much as a 40% wage increase across the three-year life of the contract simply to make them competitive for the region,” OFNHP said.
PeaceHealth released a statement to KOIN 6 about the strike vote.
“PeaceHealth remains committed to good-faith bargaining to reach an agreement that is competitive, fair and provides improvements for our caregivers. To date, we have proposed comprehensive compensation packages that ensure our pay rates are competitive in our market.
We are disappointed the union is taking a strike authorization vote in preparation for a potential strike given that we are actively engaged in negotiations and have provided competitive offers. Our commitment to the process remains strong, and we deeply encourage the union’s continued participation.
With OFNHP holding a strike authorization vote, it does not mean that a strike will necessarily take place. We are hopeful that a strike will be avoided, and an agreement will be reached, just as we have been able to reach agreements across our healthcare system with the various unions who represent our caregivers.”