200 Techs from PeaceHealth Southwest and supporters rallied amidst 100 degree heat on Wednesday, July 19th, demanding that PeaceHealth offer reasonable raises, a fair contract, and solve the staffing crisis. These Techs have been working without a contract since June 30th, and are now asking that PeaceHealth resolve their historically low wages so that they can attract and retain qualified staff.
“The staffing crisis is a result of unbelievably low wages, which have not kept up with the cost of living in this area and are driving staff away from PeaceHealth,” says Shawna Ross, an Ultrasound Sonographer at PeaceHealth Southwest and chair of the Tech Bargaining Unit. “The only option PeaceHealth has to solve this crisis is to offer its employees the kind of wages we can raise families on and ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect.”
More than half of the entire Tech unit joined the picket line, chanting and holding signs that raised the issue they have been fighting for at the table. These contract negotiations, which began earlier this spring, will result in a collective bargaining agreement that will cover wages, benefits, and working conditions for the next three years. To meet the market rates for these positions, the union is asking for a 25% pay increase the first year of the three-year contract, followed by 15% and 10% raises in the years that follow.
The following Monday the Tech bargaining team was back at the table with PeaceHealth management, and members shared testimony about what it has been like to work in an environment that many feel is pushing them past their limits. Bargaining is set to continue and workers could, at any point, put in a ten-day notice of a strike. Another 1,200 workers at PeaceHealth Southwest and Sacred Heart will see their contracts expire on September 30th, making this one of the largest and most contentious labor battles of the year.