Executives Canceled Contract Negotiations
ONA nurses are advocating for a fair contract at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services.1
Home care nurses in Lane County have adjusted their strike dates to Feb. 10 - 24 after PeaceHealth executives canceled contract negotiations and appeared unprepared to care for patients during a strike. On Jan. 19, frontline home health and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services notified PeaceHealth executives a strike would begin Feb. 1. This gave PeaceHealth two weeks to transfer patients to other home care agencies or join nurses at the bargaining table and reach a fair agreement to prevent a strike.
Unfortunately, PeaceHealth executives chose to cancel their previously scheduled contract mediation session with nurses and have been slow to provide alternate care arrangements for current and new home health and hospice patients. The more than 90 registered nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).
“Our community’s health and safety is nurses’ no. 1 priority. Frankly, we have no confidence in PeaceHealth executives’ ability to provide safe care for patients by Feb. 1. To best support local patients and their families, we’ve made the difficult decision to change our strike dates to Feb. 10 - 24,” said Jo Turner, an ONA member and hospice nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services. “This also gives PeaceHealth’s multimillionaire executives another opportunity to meet with us and prevent a strike. Nurses remain ready and willing to meet them anywhere, anytime. But we’re not holding our breath.”
In advance of the strike, PeaceHealth management has been pushing nurses to pre-fill large supplies of patient medications including opioids and other prescription drugs, recertify patients for services far in advance, and mark patients as only needing one visit every two weeks–even when their current treatment schedule calls for additional visits.
In conversations with patients and families this week, home health and hospice nurses noted local patients had not been contacted by PeaceHealth about temporarily changing home care agencies. Patients and families also did not seem aware that PeaceHealth planned to hire strikebreakers through an out-of-state, for-profit staffing company and rely on “non-union staff to supplement our staffing needs” per a PeaceHealth blog post.
“PeaceHealth executives have had a week to start coordinating care for home-bound patients but they’re still stuck on square one. They’re behind on recruitment and it’s unclear to workers or patients what their staffing plan is or how it would work,” said Kevin Mealy, an ONA spokesperson. “This proves how lost PeaceHealth is without the work of our incredible home care nurses. We hope they start to recognize that and come back to the bargaining table with a fair agreement that improves patient care and treats nurses equally.”
ONA home care nurses in the Eugene/Springfield area overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike in December following nearly a year of unsuccessful contract negotiations with PeaceHealth executives. On Jan. 19, nurses delivered a strike notice to PeaceHealth informing them of the original Feb. 1 strike date. By delaying the strike to Feb. 10 and providing extensive advance notice, nurses are once again putting their community’s health first and giving PeaceHealth additional time to transfer patient care to other home care agencies. It also gives PeaceHealth executives ample time to join nurses at the bargaining table and reach a fair agreement to prevent a strike.
Nurses current strike dates are Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7 a.m. through Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 a.m. It is a two-week long, limited duration strike. Nurses are planning a kickoff rally outside PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Home Care Services Springfield office (123 International Way, Springfield, OR) Saturday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Community members are encouraged to participate in the nurses’ kickoff rally.