Workers stood united to win a three-year contract that will ensure good jobs with wages that will help workers afford to live in the community where they work – most workers receive a raise of 13% or more over 3 years; protection of benefits and access to affordable healthcare; a strong voice in staffing and patient care; and the respect they deserve for their Union.
Three years ago, healthcare workers at Providence Milwaukie Hospital (PMH) voted to form their union–and after many bargaining sessions, worksite actions and a near-strike, PMH workers reached a settlement with Providence management and voted overwhelmingly to approve their first Union contract.
The 170 workers, including housekeepers, dietary workers, certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, and patient admission representatives, voted to form their Union on June 14, 2018. “We were united around issues of worker and patient safety in our hospital,” said Melissa O’Neil, Housekeeper, PMH.
The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the Providence Milwaukie Hospital workers’ resolve to settle a strong first Union contract with hospital management to ensure workers had a stronger voice on the job to advocate for patients. Frontline healthcare workers have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased risk to their own health and their families while continuing to show up to care for their community.
“I look forward to the recognition and respect our Union deserves along with rebuilding relationships that can now begin after three years of sitting at the bargaining table,” says Julie Schafer, Bargaining Team member and Health Unit Coordinator. “I have high expectations that we can work with management and create an environment that supports the health and wellbeing of our patients, staff and community.”
“You can feel the excitement now that we’ve finally settled our first contract,” says Charlene Cox, Bargaining Team member and Patient Cook. “There is a sense of relief and accomplishment in what we achieved together by remaining strong in our belief to care for our community. I look forward to building our Union and having the full Union experience, and the impact it can have on future generations of caregivers at Providence Milwaukie.”
“We worked really hard together for nearly three years,” says Melissa O’Neil, Bargaining Team member and Housekeeper. “We’ve worked extraordinary hours under extreme duress through this pandemic. It’s time that Providence management recognized our Union and gave us the respect we deserve.”
“It’s like I can breathe again,” says Michelle Hitchcock, Bargaining Team member and Lead Image Scheduler. “We were stretched thin before the pandemic and this last year has been one of the toughest years of my career, yet we remained unified and steadily worked to win the protections to keep us and our patients safe.”
“After all the risks and challenges we’ve taken during this pandemic to keep our community safe, the wage increases feel really good,” says Tyler Bush, Bargaining Team member and CNA2. “It’s a step in the right direction for Providence to share its wealth with frontline workers.”