PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) announced that nurses have voted to authorize a strike. The update came during a news conference late Monday morning following months of negotiations that resulted in a stalemate between Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the union.
The authorization vote gives union leaders the right to declare a strike, but it does not mean nurses will go on strike. If nurses do go on strike, they would have to give the hospital a 10-day notice before one starts.
OHSU and the ONA have been in negotiations since December 2022. The nurse’s current contract expired on June 30, 2023. In August, the union declared an impasse, meaning the two sides had reached a stalemate in negotiations. At that point, the two sides entered into a 30-day cooling off period and began to work with a mediator.
According to a release sent by ONA, nurses want a contract that improves workplace safety, sets safe staffing ratios, provides incentives that will retain nurses and recruit highly skilled ones, maintains appropriate staffing levels and gives them the “opportunity to reopen negotiations if the acquisition of Legacy Health System is finalized.”
OHSU has offered wages with increases of 15%, 4.25% and 4.25% over the next three years, according to the latest bargaining update posted on their website on Thursday. The hospital said they have addressed minimum staffing levels in the emergency departments and other areas, and offered a $3,000 bonus for nurses working 20 hours per week and a $1,500 bonus for nurses working less than 20 hours per week.
The last time nurses at OHSU went on strike was in 2001, and that strike lasted 56 days.
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