Nurse Leaders Overwhelmingly Voted to Authorize a Ten Day Strike at OHSU
NURSES AT OHSU VOTE TO AUTHORIZE A STRIKE
News Release from Oregon Nurses Assn.
September 18th, 2023
ONA leadership will determine when to issue a 10-day strike notice at Oregon’s largest hospital.
(Portland, Ore.) – During a rally in the South Waterfront this morning, nurse leaders announced that the more than 3,100 registered nurses at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) overwhelmingly voted to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike. The frontline nurses at OHSU—Oregon’s largest hospital—are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). Nurses at OHSU last went on strike in 2001 in a walkout that lasted 56 days.
”As nurses, it is our responsibility to stand up to protect our patients and our community’s health. In fact, it is our ethical obligation to advocate for our working conditions because when our working conditions improve, our patients’ care does too. We’re ready to strike to make sure Oregonians get the care they need when they come through our doors,” said Duncan Zevetski, vice president of ONA’s nurse bargaining unit at OHSU.
The strike authorization vote ran from Sept. 6 – 17. Nurses at OHSU voted nearly unanimously to authorize an open-ended strike.
Since December 2022, frontline nurses have engaged in more than 30 contract negotiation meetings with OHSU executives. Nurses’ contract with OHSU expired on June 30, 2023 and the nurse bargaining team declared impasse in August.
Nurses are calling for a fair contract to ensure a safe environment for patients and nurses, provide high-quality care through safe staffing, retain the highly skilled and valuable nurses who work at the hospital, and ensure frontline workers can reopen negotiations if OHSU’s acquisition of the Legacy health system is finalized.
Nurses announced the results of their strike authorization vote in front of hundreds of nurses and supporters during a “Ready to Bargain, Ready to Strike” rally at Elizabeth Caruthers Park in the South Waterfront. Following the rally, nurses and community allies marched to the Robertson Life Sciences Building where OHSU’s board of directors was meeting. A small group of nurses went inside to observe OHSU’s board meeting and were recognized during the meeting by OHSU executives. Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses and allies peacefully gathered outside the building to march and call for a fair contract that puts patients first and allows the hospital to retain, recruit and respect frontline caregivers.
“For decades hospitals have made billions of dollars on the backs of nurses and health care workers while telling us to take on more responsibility and bigger assignments at the expense of our patients and health,” said ONA President Tamie Cline, RN. “Hospitals have put profits over patients and are causing our health care crisis. All we want to do is take care of our patients, our neighbors, and our communities in the manner they deserve to be treated; not just enough to get by. We are asking OHSU to come to the bargaining table and work together with us to make sure that happens.”
If a strike is called, ONA will give OHSU and the community a 10-day notice to allow hospital executives adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage.
The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union representing over 16,000 nurses and allied health workers 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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