OHSU nurses vote to authorize strike after 9 months of negotiations

After nine months of negotiations, more than 3,000 frontline nurses at one of Oregon’s largest hospitals voted to authorize a strike.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 4:47 PM PDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:05 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - After nine months of negotiations, more than 3,000 frontline nurses at one of Oregon’s largest hospitals voted to authorize a strike.

The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents those nurses at OHSU, announced the results of their strike authorization vote this morning, in which 96% of the nurses voted in favor.

Representatives said they have had 30 bargaining sessions over the last nine months, but have still not reached an agreement.

See Also: PPS warns of possible school closure for teacher strike

The vote opens the door to set a date for a potential strike, and ramps up the pressure to get a deal in place.

At a rally on Monday morning, their signs reflected a few of their demands- for fair wages, but also for better protections for staff in dangerous situations, and increased staffing levels.

“We need security and safety built in to our contract that holds OHSU accountable,” said one Registered Nurse who didn’t want to be named. She said things are especially bad in the emergency department and intensive care unit.

“I used to work in intensive care before I worked in the environment that I work in now, and [we were] having visitors come in and making really big threats, and not feeling like we have much control to take care of that.”

Vinny Belotti said he used to fill in at OHSU as a traveling nurse before he was a full-time employee, and the needs were clear.

“Last year I was a traveler, down in the emergency department helping out because they didn’t have enough staff for that,” he said. “That’s not even my role, they just put me down there. And they were talking about striking then.”

ONA members say they will provide OHSU with a 10-day notice once a strike is officially declared and a date is announced, and then it’s up to those on the bargaining team to reach an agreement.

Nurses who spoke with FOX 12 don’t want to strike, but if they have to, they will.

“It really makes us all very angry, because we’re here for our patients,” Belotti said.

See Also: Local SAG-AFTRA members gather in Downtown Portland to show support for strike

OHSU provided us with a statement listing some of their specific goals moving forward, which you can read below:


OHSU values our longstanding partnership with the Oregon Nurses Association, and thanks the ONA bargaining team for their collaboration in helping reach tentative agreements on many issues.

ONA-represented employees voted on whether to authorize a strike Sept. 6 through Sept. 17. It is important to note that this is a normal part of the bargaining process: A strike has not been declared, might not be declared and OHSU and ONA continue to bargain.

OHSU takes seriously the possibility of a strike and it is our hope that such an event can be avoided. That is why OHSU has continued to respond to ONA’s stated priorities during mediation, including:

· Historic across-the-board increases of 15% (year 1), 5.5% (year 2), 5% (year 3). OHSU has been proud to historically have the highest-paid nurses in the state. This proposal offers the highest average wages in the state: Most OHSU nurses would receive the highest total compensation in the state following ratification of the contract, and all OHSU nurses would reach that distinction by July 1, 2024.

· A one-time ratification payment of up to $10,000.

· Meeting or exceeding all state-required staffing ratios by June 1, 2024.

· Requirement that new staffing plans do not reduce current staffing levels.

· A comprehensive third-party safety assessment that includes the physical environment, unit safety, training needs, self-defense training, and emergency alert systems, and a minimum investment on safety improvements of $10 million. Decisions on how to invest the $10 million will be determined by an employee committee, which will be 50% represented employees.

We look forward to continuing to work in good faith toward a contract that supports OHSU nurses and the long-term sustainability of the organization.