Oregon Nurses Association begins three day strike at Providence

A  show of solidarity across Oregon.

More than three thousand healthcare professionals striking at six different northwestern Providence facilities, including Medford.

The strike began at 6 Tuesday morning, and the public has not been shy with their support for the nurses.

“It’s been nonstop support from the community,” says ONA nurse Dan Richmond.

I think it’s very hard for this company to stick it to it’s nurses when they sacrifice so much. And I think you see that out here, willing to make the sacrifice to stand up to this company so we can keep providing quality patient care. 

Hannah Groen, another ONA nurse said, “It’s empowering to know it’s not just the nurses out here that are concerned, but so is the community we’re caring for.”

With more than 300 nurses from the Medford facility’s staff on the picket line, Providence says a planned surgery delay has been the only disruption to patient care.

“Everyone’s in good spirits,” says Chris Pizzi, Providence Southern Oregon CEO.

 We have the replacement workers in place, we had no… other than the surgery delay this morning… no other issues to report. We’re here to take care of the community. 

Despite the positive reception on the street, ONA organizers say they didn’t want it to come to this… But felt backed into a corner by recent unproductive bargaining with Providence.

“All of us went up there together hopeful that they would want to try to avoid a strike, but that’s exactly opposite of what happened,” says Whitney Evans, a nurse on ONA’s negotiating team.

They have not come to the table with anything different with all of our other key priorities since February. The only thing they have touched is wages. This strike is way bigger than only base wages.

Oregon Nurses Association says one of its biggest concerns is the inclusion of safe staffing protections in their contracts.

Groen said, “Better staffing for the nurses the ratio for patient to nurse is really what we’re fighting for safety wise, because our community isn’t safe if we’re being pushed to do too much. “

Providence says they’re following what is laid down in the law.

The three day strike is set to end Thursday with nurses expecting to return to work Friday.

However… The contracts for the replacement nurses is not set to expire until two days later…June 23rd.

“We don’t anticipate needing any of the striking RN‘s to return to their regular schedule because we have replacement nurses already working on their schedule,” says Chris Pizzi.

Providence says nurses who’s positions have not been filled by replacement workers will be contacted as the strike ends.

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NBC5 News reporter Kade Stirling was born and raised in Idaho. Kade graduated from the College of Southern Idaho with a degree in Digital Media. He started his broadcast career as a Master Control Operator at KMVT in Twin Falls, ID. He's a bookworm, Lego fanatic and an animal lover. As an outdoor enthusiast, Kade loves Southern Oregon. He spends his free time hiking with his fiancé and dog.
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