Nurses at Providence Portland ratify new contract

Registered nurses at Providence Portland Medical Center overwhelmingly voted to approve a new two-year contract that addresses nurses’ concerns about hospital staffing and scheduling. The agreement maintains critical incentives to help the hospital meet increased staff demands resulting from Portland’s population growth and more Oregonians gaining access to health care under the Affordable Care Act. The contract also allows nurses and managers on a hospital unit to collaborate to create more balanced work schedules based on patients’ needs. ONA announced the agreement today.

ONA represents more than 1,150 registered nurses (RNs) at Providence Portland Medical Center and more than 3,700 RNs at Providence facilities throughout Oregon. ONA is Oregon’s largest nursing professional association and union and represents more than 14,000 nurses statewide.

“These changes will help improve health care for our patients and help us attract and retain the nurses our community relies on,” said ONA member and nurse at Providence Portland Medical Center Charlene Priem, RN, OCN. “Nurses are patients’ most important advocates. We’re eager to continue finding new ways to enhance the care we provide to patients and their families.”

Under the agreement, nurses may work together with managers to design unit work schedules that take nurses’ education, experience and skills into account when making schedules to ensure the right nurses are available at all times.

“Nurses are a team. We work together to make sure every patient gets the care they need, when they need it,” said ONA member and nurse at Providence Portland Medical Center Lynnea Gardner, BSN, RN. “It’s easier to do that when we have a balanced schedule that ensures nurses with specialized skills are available when and where they’re needed.”

Additionally, the agreement creates a fair system to rotate nurses’ shifts when patient numbers change unexpectedly and it helps ensure more nurses receive their legally-mandated breaks. Multiple studies show working without a legally-mandated break increases nurse burnout and can lead to more workplace injuries.

Highlights of the New Agreement:

  • Creates new scheduling rules designed to meet patients’ needs
  • Maintains critical staff incentives to treat increasing numbers of patients
  • Distributes work evenly to adapt to changes in patient numbers
  • Preserves critical health care benefits for nurses and their families

The new contract also recognizes and reward nurses’ service with a 4.5 percent wage increase spread over the life of the agreement.

“We’re happy with the agreement and with the participation and support of the hundreds of nurses who helped us reach this point after so many months at the bargaining table,” said ONA bargaining unit chair at Providence Portland Medical Center Sabra Bederka, RN.

Nurses have been working with hospital administrators to reach agreement on a fair contract since October 2016. The previous contract between nurses and Providence Portland Medical Center expired Dec. 31, 2016. The new agreement is in effect through Jan. 1, 2019.

ONA was founded in 1904 as the professional association for nurses in Oregon. It is a nonprofit association and a labor union representing nurses. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit

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