The Oregon Nurses Association has announced what it calls the “strongest contract” ever won for its members at the state’s largest hospital saying it will avert a strike.
Oregon Health & Science University management and the nurses union reached a tentative agreement on Monday for a new three-year contract for the hospital’s nearly 3,200 nurses. The agreement, which still needs to be approved by ONA members , concludes 10 months of sometimes contentious negotiations that played out against a backdrop of increasingly assertive union activity in Oregon and the U.S.
In a blog post Monday, the union highlighted “big wins” that include wage increases starting at 15% for the first year and 6% each over the following two years, increased pay for difficult shifts, as well as improvements to workplace safety and staffing for breaks.
Notably, the union secured the ability to continue bargaining over the potential impacts that OHSU’s proposed merger with Legacy Health will have on unionized employees.
“I am proud of the nurses who organized, fought for and won this historic contract—a contract that our union colleagues across the country can look to as an example in their own fights for improved working conditions that will support them in caring for their patients,” Duncan Zevetski, a registered nurse and vice president of the bargaining unit at OHSU, said in a statement issued by the union.
On its website, OHSU staff on Tuesday posted a statement that appeared to be agreed upon by both sides in the negotiations, saying the two teams were “proud” to announce the deal.
“This contract stands as the cornerstone for fostering a robust, healthy and secure nursing workforce, enabling us to deliver top-notch care to our patients and the communities of the Pacific Northwest,” reads the statement.
The nurses union had picketed the hospital and voted last week to authorize a strike. Its contract with the university expired on June 30. The new agreement will go before members for a vote between Oct. 1 through 5.
The nurses union had initiated a five-day strike in June to pressure Providence Health & Services over negotiations involving three workplaces.
Meanwhile, frontline health care workers at Kaiser Permanente in Oregon, southwest Washington and multiple other states have authorized a strike that could begin as soon as next week.