Last week, the Service and Maintenance and Tech healthcare workers at PeaceHealth Southwest and the Lab Professionals at PeaceHealth St. John voted to authorize a strike at both hospitals by 95%, with 93% of these healthcare workers participating in the vote. Many of these healthcare workers, who are members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), AFT Local 5017, have been in negotiations over their next union contract for months. These workers say that they were pushed to authorize a strike because management refused to bargain in good faith, put reasonable offers on the table, or address the issues that affect both staff and patients.
“Striking is always a last resort, but with these negotiations, it may be necessary to ensure safe staffing, living wages, and a healthy future for patient care at PeaceHealth,” says OFNHP President Jonathon Baker. “We have given management ample opportunity to negotiate over these critical issues, yet they have delayed, underwhelmingly responded to the crisis we’re in, and made insulting offers. We’re fighting to improve healthcare access and protect the communities our members serve; we won’t settle until we accomplish exactly that.”
These more than 1,300 workers are also joined in negotiations by Techs at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart in Eugene, who have not voted to authorize a strike. These four bargaining units represent some of the most vital positions in our hospitals including Respiratory Therapists, Laboratory Scientists, Imaging Specialists, Patient Access Representatives, and Nursing Assistants. Now that a strike has been authorized, members could call one at any point by filing a ten-day notice. After which, a strike would begin. These workers are continuing their negotiations with management, and the 350 additional workers at Sacred Heart will decide whether to hold their own strike authorization vote soon. This could result in a 1,700 worker strike across three hospitals and two states, making it among the largest non-RN strikes in the region’s recent history.
These workers have also called for an informational picket at PeaceHealth Southwest (400 NE Mother Joseph Pl) to be held at 5:00 p.m.on October 11th to share workplace experiences. Every unit considering a strike action argues that they are making far below market rate, and the Vancouver Techs are asking for as much as a 40% wage increase over three years simply to make them competitive in the region. OFNHP St. Charles Medical Center techs in Bend struck for 9 days over similar issues in 2021, and OFNHP members at Kaiser Permanente the same year approached what would have been among the largest healthcare strikes in American history.