1,400 nurses in Portland, Seaside will vote whether to authorize strike

Portland nurses picket signs
Portland nurses picket signs(ONA)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:32 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Frontline nurses at Providence Portland and Providence Seaside are set to vote on whether or not to authorize strikes after eight months of tense negotiations and little response from Providence management, according to a statement from the Oregon Nurses Association on Tuesday evening.

Providence nurses in Seaside are scheduled to vote on Thursday, May 25 and Portland’s Providence nurses are scheduled to vote Wednesday, May 24.

By voting in favor, the nurses would give their union officials permission to call a strike in an effort to change Providence’s allegedly ongoing unjust labor practices.

The nurses are demanding increased staffing at the hospitals, increased paid leave (36-52 additional hours), pay increases, and better benefits.

“We’ve been telling Providence for years that the wage and benefit package they are offering isn’t retaining staff, and they simply refuse to listen,” said Richard Botterill, RN and bargaining unit chair at Providence Portland. “If Providence doesn’t change course or address short-staffing, nurses will continue to leave the bedside, the quality of patient care will suffer, and Providence will let down our community.”

ONA wrote that nurses have volunteered their time to meet frequently with paid Providence managers since October 2022, advocating for the changes but have been met with roadblocks.

“I have been a nurse for more than 35 years, and I love the work I do, or I would not still be doing it. But I am tired of the short staffing and the lack of respect from Providence,” said Mary Romanaggi, RN at Providence Seaside Hospital. “It is just as expensive to live on the coast as it is in Portland, but our wages are lower. That means new nurses are less willing to set down roots and become a part of this wonderful community.”

If the nurses in Portland and Seaside vote to authorize a strike this week, ONA leaders will determine next steps, including setting strike dates, according to the statement.

FOX 12 reached out to Providence for a response. They sent a statement, saying:

“For more than 8 months, Providence Portland Medical Center has attempted to negotiate constructively with ONA to deliver a comprehensive pay and benefits package to our nurses. Providence Seaside has also been negotiating since September 2022.

Progress is being made at each bargaining table as we negotiate important contract enhancements for our nurses. These strike authorization votes, which run through June 4, are just the latest attempts to delay meaningful discussion - moves that only serve to prevent our valued nurses from receiving the substantial pay raises and expanded benefits they deserve.

When it comes to negotiations, Providence Portland and Providence Seaside believe that talking solves more than walking. We are eager to continue the dialogue with ONA at both locations as we work tirelessly toward finding a mutually agreeable resolution.

As these important conversations continue, our communities can rest assured that all Providence facilities are prepared to provide high-quality, compassionate care for our patients, as we have for more than 150 years.”