Providence Milwaukie nurses strike

Nurses at Providence Milwaukie Hospital conducted a 24-hour strike July 11 to protest frequent staff cuts in the medical surgical unit. Those cuts were made unilaterally, without prior notice or agreement from the union — Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. OFNHP has been trying to bargain a first contract for the unit for over 16 months.

The union has filed five unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, including a complaint about the staffing cuts. That complaint was settled when the hospital agreed to provide more registered nurses, but the union says the hospital reneged on that promise, so it filed another charge.

The two sides have been in mediation since June 11.

In a written statement to the media, hospital spokesperson Renee King said the strike had no effect on patient care.

The union gave 10 days’ notice of the strike, and doctors reportedly avoided scheduling appointments on July 11, or rescheduled them for different times or locations. One doctor, Deanna Olson, let picketers use her across-the-street office as a rest stop.

Union leaders said at least five Providence Milwaukie nurses crossed the picket line. It also appeared the hospital was able to bring nurses from other Providence locations. Nurses at Providence St. Vincent and Providence Portland are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association, but with an open-shop arrangement in which dues and membership are not required.

Union construction workers working on a hospital expansion refused to cross the picket line, as did at least one Teamster-driven delivery truck.

More than 100 supporters joined about 45 striking nurses for a support rally that began at 4:30 p.m.

Strikers lost wages, but were not threatened with any discipline or retaliation by the hospital, and returned the following day without incident.

Union leaders said more one-day strikes are likely.

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