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News Releases
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Oregon Nurses at Providence St. Vincent to Announce New Vote Results Thursday (Photo) - 06/22/22

Correction: The vote closes June 23, not July 23. 

NURSE PRESS CONFERENCE: 

Thursday, June 23

1 p.m.  PT

Oregon Nurses Association – Third Floor Conference Room

18765 SW Boones Ferry Rd. 

Tualatin, OR 97062 

Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) nurse leaders from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and other Portland-area Providence hospitals will announce vote results from Providence St. Vincent’s Tentative Agreement ratification vote and answer media questions about next steps. We will also stream the conference live on our main Facebook page. Please contact Scott Palmer or Myrna Jensen to attend the press conference in person or to ask a virtual question. 

(Portland, OR) - ONA nurses at Providence St. Vincent are currently voting on a tentative contract agreement with Providence. The vote closes Thursday, June 23. Nurses will announce the vote results during Thursday’s press conference at the ONA offices at 1 p.m. 

If nurses at Providence St. Vincent vote to ratify the tentative contract agreement it will take effect immediately and avert a strike at St. Vincent. If nurses vote not to ratify, the ONA nurse bargaining team at Providence St. Vincent may return to negotiations or move towards a strike. 

The 1,600 frontline nurses working at Providence St. Vincent are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). 

In May, ONA nurses at Providence St. Vincent voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike against Providence to protest Providence’s illegal unfair labor practices (ULPs) and demand a fair contract that improves patient care, raises nurse staffing standards, makes health care more affordable and addresses Providence’s growing staffing crisis. ONA nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City have also authorized unfair labor practice strikes against Providence–Oregon’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest employers. 

The results of the vote at Providence St. Vincent does not impact nurse contracts or strike preparations at the other two Providence hospitals. If strikes are called at any ONA-represented hospital, nurses will provide Providence with a 10-day notice to allow Providence’s management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage. 

ONA represents more than 4,000 frontline nurses working in 10 Providence Health System facilities from Portland to Medford including multiple Oregon hospitals where Providence has allowed nurse contracts to expire, including Providence St. Vincent, Providence Milwaukie, Providence Willamette Falls, and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. 

ONA nurses have volunteered their time to meet with paid Providence managers more than 50 times over the last eight months to bargain multiple contracts at Providence's Oregon hospitals. ONA frontline nurses throughout Oregon are asking Providence for basic safety standards and common-sense proposals to protect our patients, our coworkers and our families including stronger patient safety standards, safe nurse staffing, affordable health care, paid leave, and a fair compensation package that enables the hospital to recruit and retain the skilled frontline caregivers our communities need to stay healthy and safe. 

BACKGROUND: 

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in Oregon and is the most profitable hospital in Providence St. Joseph’s vast multistate, multi-billion dollar health system. Nurses’ vote on the tentative agreement at Providence St. Vincent follows historic strike votes by nurses and one of the largest informational pickets in recent Oregon history. On March 15, more than 700 frontline nurses who work at multiple locations within the Providence Health System led an informational picket outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center about raising health care standards for nurses, patients, and our communities. Supporters included nurses and other health care professionals, along with labor, religious and community leaders, and elected officials including Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran, MD, and multiple Oregon state representatives.

ONA nurses continue to bargain multiple open contracts with Providence St. Joseph–the multi-state, multi-billion dollar health care giant. On May 4, ONA nurses at Providence St. Vincent voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center—one of Oregon’s largest and most profitable hospitals. 

On June 3, frontline nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Milwaukie and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City voted overwhelmingly to authorize strikes against Providence. Providence has never faced a strike in Oregon. The unprecedented strike votes are to protest Providence’s illegal unfair labor practices (ULPs) and demand fair contracts which improve patient care, raise nurse staffing standards, make health care more affordable and address Providence’s growing staffing crisis.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout Oregon. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

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Attached Media Files: ONA-Voice-logo-300dpi.jpg
Community allies and elected leaders join ONA nurses in a march and informational picket against Providence in downtown Oregon City, Wednesday, May 11.
Community allies and elected leaders join ONA nurses in a march and informational picket against Providence in downtown Oregon City, Wednesday, May 11.
City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Nurses' Right to Strike at Providence (Photo) - 06/08/22

The Milwaukie City Council–led by Mayor Mark Gamba–voted Tuesday to support ONA nurses' efforts to secure a fair contract which addresses patient safety and staffing issues at Providence Milwaukie.

(Milwaukie, OR) – Declaring union nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital “essential for the health, safety and well-being of our community,” Milwaukie’s City Council passed a resolution supporting frontline nurses at Providence Milwaukie in their contract negotiations with Providence–one of Oregon’s largest and most profitable health systems.

“Nurses are the heart and soul of our communities’ health care. Without them, health care would come to a screeching halt. I’m standing with ONA nurses at Providence Milwaukie to put people before profits. During the pandemic, we all praised the frontline workers, like nurses, who put their lives and those of their families at risk, providing us with the best care they could. I expect Providence to treat them like the heroes that they are,” said Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba who introduced the resolution Tuesday night. 

The 239 frontline nurses working at Providence Milwaukie voted nearly unanimously to authorize a historic health care worker strike against Providence on Friday, June 3. Nurses at Providence Milwaukie are members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). ONA represents more than 4,000 frontline nurses working at 10 Providence facilities from Portland to Medford.

ONA nurses from Providence Milwaukie testified in support of the resolution Tuesday night and city councilors voted to pass it to stand with their local nurses who “have been on the front lines, risking their lives and their families' lives to provide quality, compassionate patient care to all in Milwaukie and surrounding communities.”

“Every day Providence is forcing nurses to do more with less. I work in a small unit in a small community hospital. There’s no backup during the best of times. Now there’s no one up front either. Our patients and our community are paying the price while Providence pads its bank account,” said Julie Davison, a frontline nurse and ONA leader at Providence Milwaukie Hospital who testified at the City Council meeting. “We appreciate our communities’ leaders taking action to stand with Oregon’s nurses. When I started here sixteen years ago this was a hometown hospital our community could be proud of. Now we’re fighting to make sure our patients have the basics. Nurses are demanding Providence commit to raise standards so we can give our patients the care they need.”

Frontline nurses at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City also overwhelmingly voted to authorize strikes against Providence on Friday, June 3.  

Despite being one of the state’s largest corporations and regularly collecting more than half of its total profits from Oregonians, Providence has never faced a health care worker strike in Oregon.

Nurses' unprecedented strike votes at multiple hospitals are to protest Providence’s illegal unfair labor practices (ULPs) and demand fair contracts which improve patient care, raise nurse staffing standards, make health care more affordable and address Providence’s growing staffing crisis.

Despite nurses’ sacrifices over the last two years serving on the frontlines of a deadly pandemic--Providence has left many frontline nurses working without the safety and security of a contract. Providence allowed nurse contracts at major Oregon hospitals including Providence Willamette Falls to expire in 2021. Providence Hood River Hospital's contract expired in March 2022 and Providence Milwaukie’s contract expired in May.

ONA nurses are leading meetings to begin preparing for a strike and working to determine strike dates. When strikes are called ONA will give Providence a 10-day notice to allow management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage. 

Providence St. Joseph Health is one of the largest and wealthiest health care systems in the US with tens of billions in annual revenue. It is Oregon’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest corporations. Despite its national reach, Providence regularly collects more than half of its total profits from Oregonians. ONA nurses are asking Providence’s corporate executives to re-invest in safe, high-quality, affordable health care. 

Visit www.OregonRN.org/Providence to learn more.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 4,000 nurses working at 10 Providence Oregon health care facilities throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit www.OregonRN.org.

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More than 700 ONA nurses, community supporters and elected officials rally outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon during an informational picket Tuesday, March 15.
More than 700 ONA nurses, community supporters and elected officials rally outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon during an informational picket Tuesday, March 15.
ONA Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement, Strike Averted at 1 of 3 Providence Hospitals in Oregon (Photo) - 06/04/22

Nurses’ agreement raises patient safety standards, addresses staffing crisis and keeps health care affordable at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland–one of Oregon’s largest and most profitable hospitals.

(Portland, OR) – Nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center reached a landmark tentative agreement on a new two-year contract with Providence administrators June 3. The tentative agreement takes critical steps to improve patient care and safety, raise nurse practice standards, keep health care affordable and begin addressing Providence’s growing staffing crisis.

The 1,600 frontline nurses working at Providence St. Vincent are members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). They will have the opportunity to vote on the contract in the coming weeks. If approved, the agreement will take effect immediately.  

In May, nurses at Providence St. Vincent voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike against Providence. Nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center have also authorized strikes against the health care giant. If nurses at Providence St. Vincent vote to ratify their agreement it will avert a strike at St. Vincent. The vote will not impact nurses’ contracts or strike preparations at the other two Providence hospitals.

“Nurses are dedicated to putting our patients first. We stood up to one of the nation’s largest health care systems and we’ve reached an agreement to make immediate improvements to our patients’ health care,” said ONA Executive Committee President at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center John Smeltzer, RN. “When frontline nurses spoke out, our community rallied around us. I’m grateful to the thousands of community allies, labor leaders, elected officials and frontline health care workers who stood with nurses to set a new standard of care for our community. This agreement addresses our patients’ needs and gives us a viable way to recruit and retain the nurses our community counts on. Now it’s up to Providence and nurses to honor the agreements we’ve made and make Providence St. Vincent the hospital we know it can be.”

Tentative Agreement Highlights:

  • Raises patient safety standards by improving access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks and ensuring high standards of care across departments.
  • Improves nurse staffing by incorporating safe staffing standards from Oregon’s nurse staffing law into the contract, securing a stronger commitment from Providence to meet established daily safe staffing levels, a pledge from Providence to post and fill vacant positions quickly, and creating a new, break nurse pilot program and task force to ensure patients receive care quickly and reduce nurse burnout.
  • Creates accountability around health care costs by locking in most health benefit costs and limiting increases in premiums during the life of the contract. It also establishes a long-term task force to explore innovative ways to keep care affordable and improve access for all.
  • Helps the hospitals recruit and retain the skilled frontline nurses our communities need by increasing wages up to 14% over the next two years to keep pace with market competitors.

The ONA nurse bargaining team at Providence St. Vincent is recommending a “yes” vote on the tentative agreement. Member meetings will begin next week to discuss additional details of the tentative contract agreement prior to a vote.

ONA nurses have volunteered their time to meet with Providence managers more than 45 times over the last seven months to bargain multiple contracts at Providence's Oregon hospitals. ONA frontline nurses have asked Providence for basic safety standards and common sense proposals to protect our patients, our coworkers and our families including stronger patient safety standards, safe nurse staffing, affordable health care, paid leave, and a fair compensation package that enables the hospital to recruit and retain the skilled frontline caregivers our communities need to stay healthy and safe. 

While Providence has shown a willingness to listen to ONA nurses at St. Vincent, nurses at Providence Milwaukie, Willamette Falls and Hood River Hospital are much further apart at the bargaining table. Nurses at Milwaukie and Willamette Falls announced successful strike authorization votes June 3 and nurses at Hood River are moving towards an informational picket. ONA is prepared for another round of bargaining at all three hospitals in the coming weeks. Nurses across the system remain united.

BACKGROUND: 
The agreement at Providence St. Vincent follows historic strike votes by nurses and one of the largest informational pickets in recent Oregon history. On March 15, more than 700 frontline nurses who work at multiple locations within the Providence Health System led an informational picket outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center about raising health care standards for nurses, patients, and our communities. Supporters included nurses and other health care professionals, along with labor, religious and community leaders and elected officials including Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran, MD, and multiple Oregon state representatives.

ONA nurses continue to bargain multiple open contracts with Providence–Oregon’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest employers. On June 3, frontline nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Milwaukie and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City voted nearly unanimously to authorize strikes against Providence. Providence has never faced a strike in Oregon. The unprecedented strike votes are to protest Providence’s illegal unfair labor practices (ULPs) and demand fair contracts which improve patient care, raise nurse staffing standards, make health care more affordable and address Providence’s growing staffing crisis.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 4,000 nurses working at 10 Providence Oregon health care facilities throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

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More than 700 ONA nurses, community supporters and elected officials rally outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon during an informational picket Tuesday, March 15.
More than 700 ONA nurses, community supporters and elected officials rally outside Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon during an informational picket Tuesday, March 15.
Frontline Nurses at 2 Portland-Area Hospitals Vote to Strike (Photo) - 06/02/22

More than 2,000 ONA Nurses at 3 Providence Hospitals in Oregon Have Now Authorized Strikes Against Providence–One of the Country’s Largest and Wealthiest Health Care Systems. 

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) nurses will be available Friday, June 3 for media interviews about their strike vote. Contact Kevin Mealy or Scott Palmer to schedule.  

(Portland, OR) – In two historic elections to protect patient safety, frontline nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Milwaukie and Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City voted nearly unanimously to authorize strikes against Providence–one of Oregon’s largest and most profitable health systems. They join nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland who voted to strike in May.

All together, more than 2,000 Oregon nurses at 3 Portland-area Providence hospitals have voted to strike in the last month. Despite being one of the state’s largest companies and regularly collecting more than half of its total profits from Oregonians, Providence has never faced a strike in Oregon.

The unprecedented strike votes are to protest Providence’s illegal unfair labor practices (ULPs) and demand fair contracts which improve patient care, raise nurse staffing standards, make health care more affordable and address Providence’s growing staffing crisis.

Nurses at all three hospitals are proud members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). ONA represents 233 frontline nurses working at Providence Willamette Falls, 239 frontline nurses working at Providence Milwaukie and more than 1,600 ONA nurses at Providence St. Vincent along with nurses at 7 other Providence facilities stretching from Portland to Medford.

“Providence isn’t taking patient or nurse safety seriously. For the last two years, I’ve watched nurses sacrifice our own health and safety for our patients and for Providence during COVID-19. And for the last six months Providence has forced nurses at my hospital to work without a contract when all we’re asking for are basic safety standards we need to protect our patients, our coworkers and our families,” said ONA Executive Committee President at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center Virginia Smith, RN. “We don’t take this action lightly. Nurses have reached across the aisle in bargaining and Providence has repeatedly slapped our hand away. We want to work but we need to work to be safe for our patients and our coworkers.”

“There’s a patient care crisis at Providence. Every day, nurses are forced to care for twice as many patients as is considered safe. We’re standing up for Oregonians and striking for safety. We won’t settle for anything less. Oregon patients and their families deserve safe, high-quality, affordable and accessible health care,” said ONA Executive Committee President at Providence Milwaukie Hospital Peggy Elia, RN.  “An emergency room nurse recently told me, ‘Every day I come to work and try not to quit and every day it gets harder.’ This isn’t normal and it isn’t safe. We need Providence to step up and help nurses raise standards for our patients, our nurses and our communities so we can give every Oregonian the care they deserve.”

“Our patients come first. Nurses overwhelmingly voted to strike to defend our rights to speak up to keep our patients and coworkers safe. Nurses’ top priority is improving patient safety by addressing Providence’s staffing crisis and raising standards to recruit and retain caregivers,” said ONA Executive Committee President at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center John Smeltzer, RN. “Providence is hemorrhaging nurses and staff. We can't wait and hope it gets better. We have to take action. We’re asking Providence to protect patients and nurses with basic care improvements, safe nurse staffing, better working conditions and a fair contract.”

At the bargaining table, ONA nurses have volunteered their time to meet with paid Providence managers more than 45 times over the last seven months to advocate for patient safety, staffing, affordable health care and fair compensation in multiple contracts at Providence's Oregon hospitals. ONA frontline nurses are asking Providence for basic safety standards and common sense proposals to protect our patients, our coworkers and our families including:

  • Stronger patient safety standards to reduce future COVID-19 outbreaks and ensure the highest standards of care for all Oregonians.
  • Safe nurse staffing to ensure high-quality care and patient access.
  • Affordable health care and paid leave so frontline nurses can seek care after COVID-19 exposures and afford health care for their own families.
  • A fair compensation package that allows hospitals to recruit and retain the skilled frontline caregivers our communities need to stay healthy and safe. 

Despite nurses’ sacrifices over the last two years serving on the frontlines of a deadly pandemic–Providence has left thousands of frontline nurses working without the safety and security of a contract. Providence allowed nurse contracts at major Oregon hospitals including Providence St. Vincent and Providence Willamette Falls to expire in 2021. Providence Milwaukie’s contract expired in May. 

ONA nurses are leading site meetings to begin preparing for strikes and working to determine strike dates. When strikes are called ONA will give Providence a 10-day notice to allow management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage. 

Providence St. Joseph Health is one of the largest and wealthiest health care systems in the US with tens of billions in annual revenue. It is Oregon’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest corporations. Despite its national reach, Providence regularly collects more than half of its total profits from Oregonians. ONA nurses are asking Providence’s corporate executives to re-invest in safe, high-quality, affordable health care before it's too late. 

“I take pride in being a nurse. I do my best every day to provide excellent care in the face of adversity and I strive to bring comfort and healing to my patients and their families, even in their darkest hour. I shouldn't have to fight this hard to ensure our nurses are taken care of too. It’s time for Providence to prove it cares for its caregivers.” Smith added.

Visit www.OregonRN.org/Providence to learn more.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 4,000 nurses working at 10 Providence Oregon health care facilities throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

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Health Care Providers from PeaceHealth Unionize to Address Patient Safety and Staff Burnout - 06/02/22

Eugene, Ore. - Fifteen health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, from four Eugene-area clinics have announced their plans to file with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for union recognition.  The new group, PeaceHealth Providers United (PHPU), will focus their collective bargaining power on addressing burnout, understaffing, safe patient care and ensuring access to care for the region’s most vulnerable patients. PHPU will partner with the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWHMA), an existing hospitalists union, which is represented by the American Federation of Teachers (Local 6552) and serviced by the Oregon Nurses Association. 

The providers have organized across two urgent care clinics in Eugene, one urgent care clinic in Springfield, and the walk-in clinic located at Woodfield Station in Eugene. 

“There is a staggering need for urgent care in the community, and we could provide many more patients with quality care, but we can’t retain staff,” said Morgan Garvin, MD. “PeaceHealth management should be focusing on improving staffing, but instead they choose to micromanage the few providers we have left. Unionizing helps balance the scales between us and management so we can make this a place that patients recommend first to their loved ones, and a magnet workplace for providers.” 

The PeaceHealth Urgent Care in Valley River clinic in Eugene, one of the four facilities that will have AFT-represented providers, has been closed since last year due to chronic understaffing and staff burnout. The impact of the clinic closure was a significant increase in demand for care from the other facilities and a dramatic increase in stress on the providers at those remaining facilities. Patients who rely on these clinics are some of the most vulnerable in the community, including people experiencing houselessness and housing insecurity, undocumented residents, and people who are uninsured or underinsured. 

On Wednesday, June 1, 2022, the providers delivered a letter to management petitioning for voluntary recognition so that they could promptly begin collective bargaining over their concerns about patient care, staffing, and other issues. After being declined for voluntary recognition by PeaceHealth administration, the providers filed for a union recognition election through traditional NLRB mechanisms this morning, June 2, 2022.

Dr. Mollie Skov-Ortega, President of the PNWHMA at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said, “I am thrilled to hear about the PeaceHealth Urgent Care group unionizing. When we voted to unionize almost 8 years ago, it gave us the strength and the voice to be able to stand up for what matters most - patient care and patient safety. We stand behind PeaceHealth Providers United so they can have the opportunity to do the same.”

Wendy Lang, a Nurse Practitioner and one of the providers who will be represented by AFT, notes that PeaceHealth management decisions have led to unsafe staffing levels, 4-hour or more wait times for patients, and unhealthy working conditions. “In just a few months, with just a few decisions, PeaceHealth management has broken urgent care,” Lang said. “Providers are being pushed beyond their physical and mental abilities to practice medicine safely. There is no safety valve to slow down or stop patient flow, we are not treated as human beings but rather expected to perform like a machine with only one short break in a 12 to 13-hour shift. It doesn’t feel safe and is not sustainable. The union will give me a voice to advocate for my patients and my practice.”

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