Providence expecting bargaining session, ONA gains authority to strike

MEDFORD, Ore. – Officials from Providence hospitals all over Oregon will be meeting with Oregon Nurses Association representatives next week in Portland for yet another bargaining session. This comes as the ONA has voted to authorize a strike.

The ONA held a press conference in Portland Thursday, demanding that Providence management negotiate fair contracts for all its locations and while the union has authorization to strike, Providence said it doesn’t mean they will. However, at the press conference signs were held saying ‘strike-ready.’ Providence Newberg RN, Denise Arnold spoke at Thursday’s press conference in Portland.

Last I checked, patients aren’t paying less for healthcare there. I know I’m not. It’s time for Providence to offer equal wages for equal work at all their locations.

After months of back-and-forth negotiations, Providence management proposed an offer to the Oregon Nurses Association in mid-May and said they haven’t heard back. The ONA said the offer is still not competitive and it didn’t mention changes in differentials, paid time off, lowering healthcare costs or adding safe staffing protections.

Arnold said, “we’re not asking for anything outrageous, just being able to actually access the time off benefits we were promised upon hire. Time to recuperate and deal with the trauma of our job, rested nurses make better nurses.”

Providence said the ONA has repeatedly refused bargaining date offers and wants to focus on coming to an agreement. Providence Southern Oregon Chief Executive Chris Pizzi calls the situation disheartening.

It’s a little– it’s disheartening because we do want to get a deal done. I wish that they would actually spend the time at the table negotiating as opposed to planning to do a strike. Not what we want to do, we want to get back at the table, we want to negotiate a deal.

The next bargaining session will be federally mediated from June 4 to June 7. Providence said that it has six hospitals negotiating with the ONA for six different contracts.

“We wanted to get our nurses paid. This helps with recruitment; this helps with a number of things,” Pizzi said. “And the delays have just uh, caused us to continue to hold off on doing that. And so, we’re hopeful that we can get something done soon.”

If an agreement is not reached and ONA members do decide to go on strike, they are required to give Providence 10 days notice. Should this happen, Providence said they will be prepared with replacement staff and nurses.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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