By MALLORY GRUBEN
Health techs picketed outside PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver July 16 to demand living wages in the next union contract.
Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) represents more than 350 workers in its technical bargaining unit at the hospital, including respiratory therapists, licensed practical nurses, X-ray technologists, and surgical technologists. OFNHP also represents lab workers and service workers in the hospital, but those employees are covered in different units. The medical center is one of Clark County’s largest employers.
The technical bargaining unit started bargaining for a new contract in May and has been working without a contract since June 30, when its previous agreement expired. Shawna Ross, OFNHP’s technical bargaining team chair, said workers have asked for a three-year contract that provides a 25% raise in the first year, 15% raise in the second year and 10% raise in the third year. She said those raises are necessary to recruit and retain qualified workers at a hospital that’s been understaffed for at least two years.
“The only option PeaceHealth has to solve this crisis is to offer its employees the kind of wages we can raise families on and ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect,” Ross said.
The hospital has refused to move from its offer of 2% to 3% in the first year, depending on years of service, and 2% every year after. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Aug. 24.