PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center have reached a tentative agreement with the company on a new contract, averting a strike that nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize last month.
Providence and the Oregon Nurses Association released statements on Saturday announcing the agreement after nearly eight months of negotiations and at least 20 bargaining sessions, KGW reported.
The contract, if ratified, would cover nearly 1,600 registered nurses at St. Vincent’s facility. That does not include nurses at two other Providence hospitals who voted to allow a strike earlier this week.
“In the coming week, the ONA will provide [Providence St. Vincent] registered nurses represented more details on the tentative agreement and the anticipated ratification vote,” Providence said in a statement. “Details of the tentative agreement will be made available to the general public following the ratification vote by the nurses represented.
The ONA said the deal is for a two-year contract that would ‘take critical steps’ to meet union demands for improved patient care and safety, higher standards of nursing practice , keeping health care affordable and addressing ongoing staffing shortages.
St. Vincent’s nursing contingent will hold a vote on approving the contract in the coming weeks, and it would go into effect immediately if ratified.
“Nurses are dedicated to putting our patients first. We have stood up to one of the largest health care systems in the country and we have reached an agreement to make immediate improvements in the health care of our patients, ”said nurse John Smeltzer, chairman of the executive committee of the ONA at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
According to the ONA, the agreement includes a salary increase of up to 14% over the next two years, which should both help retention and attract more nurses to the hospital. It also includes guarantees for better access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and requires efforts of Providence to better manage the workforce.
“[Providence St. Vincent] and the ONA look forward to continuing their long history of working together to support the practice of nursing and provide high quality, compassionate care to the patients and communities we serve,” said Providence.
The ONA is still negotiating individually with Providence Willamette Falls, Providence Milwaukie and Providence Hood River. Hood River nurses are working to hold an information picket, the ONA said, but have not yet approached a strike authorization vote.
According to the union, the administrators of Providence and the nurses of these three other establishments are “much further away” at the bargaining table than they were in Saint-Vincent.