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As PeaceHealth strike ends, bargaining resumes

Tech workers could strike again if Vancouver, Longview hospitals refuse to address staffing, wage issues


The following is from the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP, AFT Local 5017):

VANCOUVER, Wash.— On Saturday, Oct. 28, the 1,300 PeaceHealth workers who went on strike on Oct. 23 returned to work. These workers had organized a five-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike to protest actions by management that the union says were illegal and violated the union rights of their workers.

These healthcare workers, who are members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP, AFT Local 5017), have been negotiating their next union contract for months and say that management pushed them onto the picket line through bad faith bargaining and by making unilateral changes to their contracts.

“This strike was a direct result of management violating the labor rights of its workers, refusing to negotiate in productive ways, and making unilateral changes that undermined the legally protected status of our members,” says Jonathon Baker, OFNHP President.

These workers make up three of the four bargaining units currently negotiating with PeaceHealth for a new contract, including the Lab Professionals at PeaceHealth St. John and the Tech and Service and Maintenance units at PeaceHealth Southwest. In Eugene, the Tech unit has been negotiating with PeaceHealth Sacred Heart, focusing on the same issues that the PeaceHealth workers up north have been negotiating over, such as short staffing and living wages.

All of the units say that management has been refusing to address concerns over low wages, which they say is making it difficult to attract and retain qualified staff and, ultimately, limiting patient access. If the Techs at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart do not see acceptable movement regarding staffing and wage proposals from management over the next couple of weeks, they could set up a strike authorization vote and, ultimately, walk out on strike themselves.

The units returned to the bargaining table this week, with PeaceHealth St. John at the table yesterday and other PeaceHealth Southwest workers negotiating today (Oct. 31) and Nov. 7. Each one of those units reserve the right to strike again if adequate progress is not made at the bargaining table.

Instead of trying to avoid last week’s strike, management chose to cancel all bargaining dates, offer strike-breaking workers upwards of $8,000 a week, and threatened to cancel the health insurance of the striking workers. Despite holding a press conference on Oct. 23 stating that the hospital would run at “100%” during the strike, PeaceHealth was only able to secure fewer than 200 replacement workers to cover the 1,300 employees walking the picket line.

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