3,000 Providence Nurses Plan Largest Strike in OR History

4 Min Read Published June 10, 2024
3,000 Providence Nurses Plan Largest Strike in OR History

In a move that could disrupt healthcare services across Oregon, around 3,000 nurses from six Providence hospitals in Oregon have submitted a strike notice for June 18, 2024. The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), which represents the nurses, has warned that this would be the largest nursing strike in the history of the state. The potential strike highlights the ongoing tensions between healthcare workers and hospital management over issues such as staffing levels, working conditions, and patient safety.

Providence Hospitals Planning To Strike - List

  • Nurses have agreed to strike at the following hospitals: 
  • Providence St. Vincent Medical Center (Portland)
  • Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center.
  • Willamette Falls Medical Center (Oregon City)
  • Providence Medford (Ore.) Medical Center.
  • Providence Hood River (Ore.) Memorial Hospital.
  • Providence Milwaukie (Ore.) Hospital.

A Clash Over Staffing Laws

At the heart of the conflict is the allegation that Providence hospitals have failed to adhere to the new safe staffing law for healthcare HB 2697. The ONA says they have filed over a dozen complaints against Providence, accusing them of violating the regulations designed to ensure adequate staffing levels and protect patient safety.

According to the State of Oregon, the staffing law requires hospitals to establish staffing committees that include direct-care nurses and to follow specific nurse-to-patient ratios based on the acuity of patients. However, the union claims that Providence hospitals have consistently disregarded these requirements, leading to understaffing and compromising the quality of care.

Negotiations at a Standstill

Negotiations between the ONA and Providence have been ongoing, but the two parties have yet to reach a resolution. The union has accused the hospital management of failing to engage in negotiations and ignoring the concerns of nurses on the front lines.

Providence Statement

The hospital system’s Chief Executive Jennifer Burrows, RN released the following statement

"Today, our nursing leadership bargaining teams received 10-day notices from Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) detailing their plans to hold strikes at Providence St. Vincent, Providence Hood River, Providence Medford, Providence Milwaukie, Providence Newberg and Providence Willamette Falls. The work stoppages will begin at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18. We will have replacement workers on site for five days.

This decision is not a surprise – however it does sadden me both personally and, as a fellow nurse, professionally. Since we started negotiating with ONA in the fall of 2023, we have made significant progress at the bargaining table for all 6 ministries. We’ve proposed substantial wage increases and contract enhancements that our nurses have requested, including adding language related to our new nurse staffing legislation.

The strikes delay negotiations and resolution for these teams of valued caregivers. Now, our leadership team’s attention will turn to caring for our community during this work stoppage. We will not return to the bargaining table until the strike concludes. We have been transparent with ONA that in the event of a work stoppage, our priority becomes ensuring we provide excellent patient care.

So, to meet our commitments to our communities, we’ve secured replacement workers to help us care for our patients. And nurses who want to come to work and not strike are welcome to do so. We will provide information on how to report for work. Many core leaders and caregivers will be generously working to care for patients at our hospitals. I want to thank all of you in advance. Your stepping up to meet the need of our patients and families aligns with our Mission and values. I’m proud to serve alongside you.

While we will likely have some difficult days ahead of us, we are confident in the strength of our teams and our ability to work together to care for our patients and community. We encourage each of you to uphold the values of Providence and your profession. We expect each caregiver to respect the rights of everyone else to make their own personal decision whether to join or cross the picket line.

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep the focus where it belongs – on our patients. We will keep you informed in the days ahead - please watch your inboxes for updates. I look forward to the conclusion of this walkout so Providence’s bargaining teams can get back to work negotiating agreements that will benefit our caregivers and their families, and ultimately, our patients and the community."

Potential Impact on Healthcare Services

If the strike goes ahead as planned, it could have far-reaching consequences for healthcare services in Oregon. With 3,000 nurses walking off the job, the six affected Providence hospitals may struggle to maintain normal operations, leading to delays in care, rescheduled appointments, and potential disruptions in emergency services.

Patients with non-urgent medical needs may be advised to seek care at alternative facilities, while those requiring immediate attention could face longer wait times or be diverted to other hospitals.

The strike could also exacerbate the existing staffing challenges faced by hospitals across the state, as nurses from other facilities may be called upon to fill in for their striking colleagues.

A Call for Resolution

As the strike date approaches, both sides are under pressure to return to the negotiating table and find a resolution that addresses the concerns of nurses while ensuring the continuity of healthcare services.

The potential strike serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by healthcare workers and the importance of addressing their concerns to maintain a robust and resilient healthcare system.

 

Nurse Erica
Registered Nurse
Nurse Erica
Nurse.org Contributor
Nurse Erica is a registered nurse from Las Vegas, NV. She started her clinical career in 1993 as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), continued with nursing eventually returning to school an additional three times. Erica is certified in three specialities. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, eventually moved into nursing leadership, and is currently working in pediatric hospice. Erica's additional nursing experience includes adult acute care, long-term care, wound care, and adult hospice. 
 
She has served as a chief nursing officer, director of nursing, director of program development, and nurse manager. 
 
Nurse Erica is a strong advocate and voice for nurses. As a social media influencer, she strives to empower nurses by educating them about workers' rights. She uses her platforms to promote nursing legislation, and union organizing and to expose violence and corruption affecting the nursing profession. As the creator of Nurse Erica, LLC she has helped thousands of nurses through mentorship and empowerment. She is the co-creator of the Red and Black Ribbon Campaign to combat violence against healthcare workers. More recently Erica added podcasting to her repertoire as co-host of the Nurses Uncorked Podcast (https://nursesuncorked.com/). She travels the country attending nursing strikes, and rallies and as a keynote speaker. 
 
You can follow Nurse Erica on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, and nurseerica.com
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