Nurses at Peace Harbor approve contract agreement

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Nurses voted to approve the contract over the course of three days, Aug. 1-3.

Earlier today, nurses at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center, represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract with the hospital, ending more than nine months of contract negotiations between local nurses and PeaceHealth administrators. The agreement includes increased security measures to help protect nurses working off-site, rules designed to dissuade excessive call shifts and overtime use, and cost-of-living adjustments to help attract and keep more qualified nurses in Florence.

The ONA nurse negotiating team reached a tentative agreement with PeaceHealth administrators July 12. Nurses voted to approve the contract over the course of three days, Aug. 1-3.

ONA represents 75 nurses at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center and more than 14,000 nurses throughout Oregon.

“Nurses and community members worked together to make sure we reached a fair agreement with the hospital that allows us to recruit and retain the health care providers we need to care for our friends, family and neighbors,” said surgical services nurse and ONA member Sandy Fleetwood, RN. “Thanks to our community’s support, we won a fair deal that will help us attract topflight nurses and improve the quality of care we provide for our patients.”

The Florence community has actively supported nurses throughout contract negotiations, said Fleetwood. On April 4, more than 100 community members met with local nurses at the Florence Senior Center to discuss ways to improve their community’s health care. On May 1, more than 100 registered nurses and community members held an informational picket at the intersection of Highway 101 and Highway 126 to inform the community about health care issues being discussed in contract negotiations.

“Community members have also been vocal supporters of nurses through citizen journalism, letters to the editor, and opinion pieces in local news outlets, and on social media,” said Kevin Mealy of the ONA.

Highlights of the new contract include:

• Makes the workplace safer for nurses and patients by expanding security for home health nurses who work off-site and make unaccompanied home visits during the middle of the night.

• Promotes staffing improvements by changing call pay requirements to discourage excessive call shifts and limit back-to-back-to-back shifts

• Helps recruit and retain skilled nurses by closing the hospital’s wage gap for nurses with 7 or more years of experience

As part of the agreement, the hospital also recognizes nurses’ service with a 3-percent cost-of-living adjustment retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017; 3-percent adjustments in 2018 and 2019; and a 2-percent adjustment in 2020. The cost-of-living adjustments are aimed at ensuring Peace Harbor’s compensation keeps pace with inflation and attracting new nurses to Florence.

Nurses had been working without a contract since January 2017. The new contract runs through March 31, 2020.