TUKWILA -- David Keepnews executive director of WSNA, issued the following statement on behalf of healthcare workers at PeaceHealth Medical Center in Vancouver and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview. The workers are represented by the Oregon Federation of Nursing and Health Professionals (OFNHP, AFT 5017):
The Washington State Nurses Association stands in solidarity with striking Oregon Federation of Nursing and Health Professionals (OFNHP) workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center. Registered nurses in these facilities, represented by WSNA, understand the high value of the work striking healthcare workers do, and we support OFNHP’s reasonable demands in negotiations. We look forward to both parties returning to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
This strike involves 1,300 frontline healthcare workers from St. John and Southwest. They have been fighting for safe staffing, living wages, and for a future for quality patient care. Nurses share the concerns OFNHP and its members have voiced at the bargaining table, as their members’ working conditions are inextricably linked to our members’ working conditions. Though our unions’ members collaborate regularly to provide patient care, PeaceHealth has refused to collaborate with OFNHP at the bargaining table to resolve the many issues facing both patients and staff.
Every day PeaceHealth waits to reach an agreement with OFNHP is another day WSNA’s members face short staffing. During this action, registered nurses may be called upon to perform duties that fall outside the scope of their normal responsibilities. Just as we do every day, WSNA encourages nurses to question any work assignments that would not normally belong to nurses and to report any assignments where they feel unequipped, understaffed, or unsafe for any reason.
WSNA will also continue to enforce our own contracts and protect our members’ rights under federal law. To that end, we have filed unfair labor practice charges against PeaceHealth over their threats to withhold health insurance from striking union members. We believe the employer’s statements to the press are an unlawful attempt to discourage other PeaceHealth employees from exercising their rights. We wholeheartedly condemn the employer’s coercive conduct and encourage nurses to report any other intimidation that could impede their own protected activity in the future.
OFNHP has set up a hardship fund where individuals can donate to support our colleagues at Southwest and St. John while they remain unpaid.