Community, Public Safety & Health, Springfield

Home care nurses may strike again

SPRINGFIELD – Over a year of bargaining has not solved the wage dispute between PeaceHealth executives and the Sacred Heart home care nurses.

Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) announced last week that the home care nurses have voted to authorize an open-ended strike against PeaceHealth to protest “PeaceHealth’s unlawful unfair labor practices (ULPs) and reach a fair contract agreement that improves community healthcare.”

Jo Turner, ONA bargaining unit chair and nurse at Peacehealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, said the strike was also about “demanding dignity and respect for our community from a health system that consistently puts profits over people.”

“I voted yes to strike because I feel it is important for me to advocate for myself, my colleagues and my community. We deserve equal pay for equal work and our community needs a robust home care services team that can provide the care it needs. This fight is bigger than just myself and I am committed to standing firm against corporate greed,” said Cathy Smith, ONA member and nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services.

A statement from PeaceHealth said it is “extremely disappointed ONA has taken another strike authorization vote, which could lead to an unprecedented open-ended strike for our home care nurses. Our goal throughout these negotiations has been to provide significant wage increases for our nurses, and we have provided ONA with proposals that support this goal.”

The statement continued by stating that PeaceHealth’s proposal to ONA is above the market rate for home care nurses in the Eugene/Springfield area and that, “despite multiple improved offers on our end, ONA has only increased their demands rather than attempting to find a middle ground.” However, ONA alleges that PeaceHealth executives are demanding nurses accept nearly 5% lower pay than PeaceHealth pays hospital nurses in Eugene and Springfield as well as hospital nurses in Florence.

PeaceHealth’s statement also alluded to the potential for PeaceHealth to be unable to manage its patients during this time.

“While we have contingency plans in place to ensure that high-quality, safe patient care remains uninterrupted, given the uncertainties of an open-ended strike, we acknowledge and appreciate that there are other very capable home health and hospice agencies available to support the needs of the Lane County community,” PeaceHealth’s statement wrote.

This vote allows the bargaining team to call a strike. If a strike is called, ONA will give 10-day notice to PeaceHealth executives to allow for patients to be connected with alternate care options. A vote may be called depending on how the April 24 mediation session goes. ONA said nurses will call for a strike “if they believe it is necessary to move PeaceHealth to meet the needs of patients, providers, and our community.”



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