‘We do need a competitive wage package’: Providence St. Vincent nurse speaks out after strike authorized

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center(KPTV)
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 12:15 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, one of Oregon’s largest hospitals, have voted to authorize to strike.

According to the Oregon Nurses Association, nearly 1,600 nurses at Providence St. Vincent voted in favor of a strike.

One nurse who has worked at Providence since 2011 spoke to FOX 12 and said walking off the job and leaving her patients is a last resort, but said in order for that to be avoided, Providence needs to meet their demands.

“It used to be a place that we were very proud to work for, and the benefits and wages were very competitive and that has declined over the years,” said Jessica Lobell.

Lobell is one of hundreds of nurses at the hospital advocating to raise nurse staffing standards. She said the primary reason is because Providence St. Vincent has been participating in “illegal, unfair labor practices” and they want them to end.

“There have been employees who have been intimidated by management for their participation in union activities, managers have also been throwing away the union flyers we put out on units,” Lobell told FOX 12.

She said those flyers included updates for nurses on their negotiations with Providence for a fair contract. Lobell said they want that contract to increase safety standards for patients and increase pay for nurses.

She said nurses at Providence St. Vincent have been paid less than all of the area hospitals for the last few years, and that has impacted staffing.

“In order to recruit and retain nurses, we do need a competitive wage package,” Lobell said.

Lobell said they also want to incorporate the nurse staffing law into their contract, but said Providence has been very resistant on that matter despite nurses at OHSU and OHSU Hillsboro having it within their contracts.

“It maintains safe patient ratios, that way nurses are able to provide the care that patients so desperately need,” she said.

As of now, there is no scheduled strike date, but once there is, nurses would legally have to give Providence 10 days notice.

FOX 12 reached out to Providence regarding the possibility of a walkout. They sent a statement, saying:

“For more than seven months, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center has attempted to negotiate constructively with ONA to deliver a comprehensive pay and benefits package to our nurses.

Throughout this long process, ONA has at times delayed on agreeing to additional dates for discussions and to this point has rejected Providence St. Vincent’s offer to engage a neutral federal mediator to help build consensus to accelerate negotiations.

Tonight’s strike authorization announcement is just the latest attempt to delay meaningful discussion, a move that only serves to prevent our valued nurses from receiving the substantial pay raises and expanded benefits they deserve.

When it comes to negotiations, Providence St. Vincent believes that talking solves more than walking. We are eager to continue the dialogue with ONA as we work tirelessly toward finding a mutually agreeable resolution.

As these important conversations continue, our community can rest assured that we are always prepared to provide high-quality, compassionate care for our patients, as we have at Providence St. Vincent for nearly 150 years.”

The Oregon Nurses Association’s Nurse Bargaining Team at Providence St. Vincent is scheduled to meet with management for more negotiations on May 10 and May 23.