OHSU Hospital Prepared in the Advent of Nurses Strike
11/29/01 Portland, Ore.
The Oregon Nurses Association has reported that OHSU nurses have voted to reject OHSU's final contract offer, which includes a wage increase of more than 11 percent -- a plan that will cost the university $10 million. The offer is more generous than any other ONA contract in the community The ONA proposal would cost OHSU $26.2 million. The state conciliator, Wendy Greenwald, has invited OHSU and ONA to an additional mediation session Friday, Nov. 30.
"We are very disappointed, but look forward to a meaningful mediation session tomorrow. OHSU's offer is more generous than any other ONA contract in the community," said Bonnie Driggers, R.N., M.S., M.P.A., interim associate hospital director for patient care services and one of the OHSU negotiators. " A strike is not in anyone's best interest. However, OHSU has been preparing for months for the possibility of a strike to ensure that patient care will not be compromised. All procedures, including elective surgeries, are expected to take place as scheduled."
OHSU has contracted with a national agency to provide experienced, licensed replacement nurses who have provided services at hospitals in similar situations. These nurses would also receive training on OHSU policies and procedures before beginning work. In addition, OHSU nurses in administrative and research roles who are not part of the bargaining party may be temporarily reassigned to assist in patient care.
Below is some information on other recent nurses strikes around the country and their outcomes:
Stanford nurses walked out for 51 days during the summer of 2000. The hospital offered a 4 percent per year wage increase before the strike. After the strike the offer only increased by an additional 1 percent (5 percent for each year of the two-year contract; for a total of 10 percent over two years -- less than OHSU's current offer). The wages the nurses lost while being on strike were more than the additional wages gained by striking. The nurses also lost benefits they had enjoyed in their previous contract.
During a recent negotiation, nurses at Staten Island University Hospital in New York gained an average of 5.3 percent per year (a 16 percent wage increase during the three years of the contract -- less than OHSU's current offer).
After being on strike for 15 months, University of Michigan nurses nevertheless settled for a 4.9 percent to a 6.6 percent annual wage increase during the four-year contract (19.5 percent to 26.4 percent wage increase for four years -- less than OHSU's current offer).