Willamette Valley Medical Center Nurses Officially Vote To Join Union

Willamette Valley Medical Center Nurses.jpg

Nuirses at Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville voted this week to join the Oregon Nurses Association union.

A spokesman for the association, which represents nearly 15,000 nurses and other staff across the state, said that nearly 90 percent of just over 120 nurses who voted supported unionizing. There are about 170 nurses on staff.  Just over 130 initially endorsed joining the association.

The vote follows a drop in the hospital's safety scores by Leapfrog, a national rating group. Nurses at the for-porfit hospital, one of only two in Oregon, have been organizing for the past year.

A longtime nurse at the hospital, Corey Mertz, said the vote will help improve safety.

"Joining ONA gives us a voice to raise safety standards, improve patient care and ensure Willamette Valley Medical Center is a place nurses and our community can be proud of," he said in a statement.

Mertz and another nurse, Jenie White, told The Lund Report that health care quality at the hospital has declined since it came under the management of LifePoint Health in 2018.

“The hospital can’t coast on past successes,” White said in a statement. "Unionizing gives nurses a seat at the table so we can work with management to raise the bar and continue providing the high-quality health care our community deserves.” 

The nurses priorities include improving patient care, raising safety standards, ensuring fair treatment for staff and gaining a voice in the hospital's decision-making. One issue that prompted the push to unionize, White said, was a move by management to strip health care benefits from part-timers starting Jan. 1. That issue is likely to come up in contract talks.

In the coming weeks, the nurses will elect an executive team, write bylaws and set dates for contract negotiations with the hospital.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected].

 

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