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OR Nurses Fight for Union Contracts During National Nurses Week

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Wednesday, May 11, 2022   

It is National Nurses Week, and nurses in Oregon are celebrating with a call to complete contract negotiations.

Nurses at Providence Willamette Falls in Oregon City are holding an informational picket today.

Jay Formick, a registered nurse at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City and member of the Oregon Nurses Association, said negotiations have been on the table since last year.

"We're calling attention to the struggle we're having with management at Providence Willamette Falls hospital coming to agreement on a contract," Formick explained.

Formick noted nurses want language guaranteeing breaks beefed up in their contract, as well as ensuring safe staffing levels and wage increases to keep up with growing inflation.

At their sister hospital, Saint Vincent Medical Center, nurses authorized a strike last week. Formick believes a strike can be avoided if management at Saint Vincent offers workers a fair contract. He said otherwise, hospitals such as his will feel the consequences of the strike.

"The Cathedral Hospital in the Providence system will be vastly reduced in its capacity," Formick pointed out. "Patients will be shunted off to all the other hospitals, including our hospital in Oregon City, and that will only put more pressure on the nurses."

In a statement, Providence said nurses rejected their offer to engage a neutral federal mediator to speed up negotiations. It said a strike authorization announcement will "further delay meaningful discussion."

Formick added nurses are not to the point of authorizing a strike at the Willamette Falls hospital. But he emphasized they have filed complaints about unfair labor practices against Providence during the negotiation process. Formick stressed the purpose of negotiations is to benefit patients.

"We're going to fight for proper staffing levels, so our patients get nurse attention that is appropriate to their needs," Formick asserted. "I sure hope management will see the light and get on board with us."

Disclosure: Oregon Nurses Association (AFT Local 5905) contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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