Providence Nurses Go on Strike

Providence has hired strikebreakers from a nationwide staffing firm.

Providence Portland Medical Center. (Wesley Lapointe)

Three thousand Providence nurses walked off the job Tuesday, after months of failed contract negotiations with the health care behemoth.

The strike affects six hospitals, including the Oregon network’s largest, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Providence says the hospitals will remain open with replacement staff, although, if past strikes are any indication, at least some patients will likely be diverted to other facilities.

The fight over pay raises and working conditions between Providence and the Oregon Nurses Association has gotten ugly. The hospital walked away from the bargaining table after the union announced earlier this month it was going to strike, prompting ONA to file an official complaint with federal regulators.

Providence has hired strikebreakers from a nationwide staffing firm, which has been advertising positions in Oregon paying $100 an hour for five days of work. (ONA is telling nurses to return to work after three days, with the intent of demanding back wages if Providence locks them out.)

The two sides remain far apart in their demands. A “fact check” document distributed by ONA prior to the strike says Providence’s final pay offer is still over 6% less than nurses make at Oregon Health & Science University. Providence counters that its nurses pay less in health care costs.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.