PeaceHealth, unions clashing after health system places hundreds of workers on unpaid leave


Amid a surge in new COVID cases, a Pacific North­west hospital system is at odds with its employee unions over a decision to dismiss hundreds of unvac­ci­nated workers.

Peace­Health, based in Vancouver, Washington, placed roughly 800 unvac­ci­nated workers on leave as part of a compa­ny­wide vaccine mandate that went into effect Sept. 1. Statewide mandates for health care workers in Oregon and Washington won’t take effect until next month.

Since Peace­Health announced the mandate on Aug. 3, unions repre­senting a swath of workers — from nurses to respi­ra­tory thera­pists to custo­dians — have leveled at least seven labor complaints. The Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion, which filed its complaint Aug. 20, said the system forced a change in policy without discussing it with the worker groups.

It’s the health system’s respon­si­bility to negotiate with their unions, and it is our right to negotiate over these events,” said Ruth Schubert, a WSNA representative.

Schubert said she and the union support vaccines and the vaccine mandates handed down by Oregon and Washington’s gover­nors. She worried PeaceHealth’s earlier deadline came as COVID-19 is straining hospitals.


OREGON PUBLIC RADIO: PeaceHealth, unions clashing after health system places hundreds of workers on unpaid leave (9/4/21)