PORTLAND, Ore. — Nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center have voted to ratify a new two-year contract with the health care provider, according to a press release from the Oregon Nurses Association, averting the looming possibility of a strike.
ONA represents about 1,600 nurses at St. Vincent and about 400 total at two other Portland-area Providence facilities, Willamette Falls and Milwaukie. Nurses from each hospital have been separately bargaining with Providence for new contracts.
Nurses at all three facilities voted in May to authorize strikes against Providence. The votes didn't automatically trigger strikes, but they gave each group's bargaining team permission to call strikes at will.
The St. Vincent nurses' bargaining team reached a tentative contract agreement with Providence in early June, but the union's rank-and-file members rejected the proposal in a vote later that month, making a strike appear more likely.
The new deal emerged from a June 28 joint bargaining session between Providence and the teams from all three hospitals, according to ONA. Willamette Falls nurses ratified their own contract on Monday, and the Milwaukie nurses are scheduled to start voting next week.
ONA's press release touted several provisions of the contract including improved staffing standards, limitations on "floating" between hospital departments, improved COVID safety procedures, freezing employee health insurance deductibles and and increasing wages by up to 16.5 percent.
"Nurses want to give patients the best care we can, but we can’t do that when we’re papering over gaps throughout the hospital. This contract recognizes the essential work ONA nurses do and gives us the tools we need to turn the page and begin delivering the care our community deserves,” John Smeltzer, ONA executive committee president at St. Vincent, said in a statement.
In a statement, Providence St. Vincent Chief Executive Jennifer Burrows lauded the agreement on a new contract, which runs through the end of 2023.
"We know that these past nine months have been challenging to our relationship as we have worked through the contract terms of wages, benefits and the work environment," Burrows said. "Providence St Vincent leadership is committed to continuing to address the important issues that have been raised that affect our nurses. We will also work at resetting and strengthening our relationships."