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Providence St. Vincent nurses overwhelmingly reject contract offer

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:03 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The troubles at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center aren’t over. Nurses voted overwhelmingly today to reject the hospital’s latest contract offer.

The nurses bargaining unit had recommended approval of the offer, but in an unusual move, the majority of nurses disagreed. They voted by a more than 4 to 1 margin to reject the hospital’s offer. Providence St. Vincent nurse Jessica Lobell says nurses at bedside are doing the best they can. She says one factor that’s affecting patient care is that nurses at Providence have been getting paid below market rates for years.

Nurses cite astronomical staff turnover and inadequate staffing levels as two reasons they think patient care is affected by their current working conditions.

The dispute between the hospital and it’s nurses has been going for almost a year. Back in March, the nurses grievances became more public when they staged a protest outside the hospital. They cited unfair labor practices, saying the hospital was trying to stop them from organizing by taking down their flyers and keeping their representatives from entering the hospital building.

A representative from Providence St. Vincent put out a statement Wednesday saying, “We are committed to ensuring our valued nurses receive a fair pay and benefits package. I remain confident we will get through these trying times and we will continue to serve our community together.”

Today’s vote authorizes a strike for the 1,600 nurses at St. Vincent Medical Center but both sides are hoping to negotiate. Nurses say they’ll give the hospital 10 days notice should they decide to move forward with a strike.

Meantime, nurses at Providence Milwaukie and Providence Willamette Falls remain in contract negotiations.