Nurses picket PeaceHealth hospital in Florence over excessive on-call

Nurses and supporters rally May 1 at the intersection of US 101 and Oregon 126 in Florence. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Nurses Association)

PeaceHealth made movement toward an agreement with Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) May 8 — a week after more than 100 nurses and supporters picketed the health network’s hospital in Florence, Oregon.

ONA represents 75 nurses at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center, a 21-bed acute care hospital. They’ve been bargaining since November 2016 and have been working without a union contract since January 31, 2017. ONA spokesperson Kevin Mealy says members want an end to excessive on-call assignments that result in overwork — and unpredictable schedules. They also want wages to catch up with nurses at other PeaceHealth hospitals. The starting wage for registered nurses at Peace Harbor is currently $33 per hour.

“It’s difficult to get nurses to come to Florence and make it their home,” Mealy said, because of the lower wages and a scarcity of affordable housing. As a result, a number of nurses commute 80 minutes from Eugene, 60 miles east.

At the May 8 bargaining session — a 12-hour bargaining session facilitated by a federal mediator — PeaceHealth presented proposals that begin to address on-call requirements and wage disparities.

PeaceHealth, headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, is a nonprofit Catholic health care system with 10 hospitals in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

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