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Providence, St. Vincent nurses reach tentative agreement ahead of potential strike

Unionized nurses at Providence St. Vincent were the first of three contingents at Providence facilities to authorize a strike.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center have reached a tentative agreement with the company on a new contract, averting a strike that the nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize last month.

Both Providence and the Oregon Nurses Association released statements on Saturday heralding the deal after nearly eight months of negotiations and at least 20 bargaining sessions.

The contract, if ratified, would cover nearly 1,600 registered nurses at the St. Vincent facility. It does not include nurses at two other Providence hospitals who voted to authorize a strike earlier this week.

RELATED: Nurses at two more Providence hospitals vote to authorize a strike

"In the coming week, ONA will provide [Providence St. Vincent] represented registered nurses more details on the tentative agreement and the planned ratification vote," Providence said in a statement. "Specifics of the tentative agreement will be available to the general public following the ratification vote by represented nurses."

ONA said that the agreement is for a two-year contract that would "take critical steps" to meet the union's demands for improved patient care and safety, higher nurse practice standards, keeping healthcare affordable and addressing the ongoing staffing shortages.

The St. Vincent contingent of nurses will hold a vote on whether to approve the contract in the coming weeks, and it would take effect immediately if ratified.

RELATED: As hundreds of nurses picket, Providence CEO pushes back on staffing claim

“Nurses are dedicated to putting our patients first. We stood up to one of the nation’s largest health care systems and we’ve reached an agreement to make immediate improvements to our patients’ health care,” said nurse John Smeltzer, ONA executive committee president at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

According to ONA, the deal includes an increase in wages of up to 14% over the next two years, which they expect to both help with retention and attract more nurses to the hospital. It also includes guarantees for better access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and requires efforts from Providence to better manage staffing levels.

"[Providence St. Vincent] and ONA look forward to continuing our long history of working together collaboratively to support the practice of nursing and providing high-quality, compassionate care for the patients and communities we serve," Providence said.

ONA is still bargaining individually with Providence Willamette Falls, Providence Milwaukie, and Providence Hood River. Nurses at Hood River are working to organize an informational picket, ONA said, but have not approached a strike authorization vote as yet.

According to the union, Providence administrators and the nurses at these three other facilities are "much further apart" at the bargaining table than they were at St. Vincent.

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