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Florence PeaceHealth nurses picket for better contracts

Pro-nurse picket signs support Florence PeaceHealth nurses as they negotiate contracts. (SBG Photo)

FLORENCE, Ore. - After months of failed contract talks with PeaceHealth's corporate office, registered nurses took to the streets of Florence to spread awareness Monday.

They have been in contract talks since November of 2016. Nurses said the offers presented by PeaceHealth are a slap in the face.

Registered nurses said they are fighting for higher pay, better benefits and additional staffing so new nurses don't get overworked.

On Monday afternoon, you could hear nurses chant in Florence: "What do we want? A Fair Contract! When do we want it? Now!"

"It's getting a little bit more personal," registered nurse Elaine Beers said.

Beers has been a registered nurse for more than 42 years.

"People that do this have a calling," Beers said. "They have to love what they are doing, but at the negotiation table, we are incredibly disrespected."

Beers said that's why nurses took to the streets with picket signs, to spread awareness about the stalling contract talks.

Meanwhile, PeaceHealth released a statement regarding the contract negotiations with the Oregon Nurses Association:

"The PeaceHealth team was ready to bargain in good faith, however ONA did not appear to share this desire as they presented several proposals that appear to be a step backward rather than forward."

The statement continued, "This is very disappointing as we were hopeful that the union would come to the bargaining table ready to work toward consensus so that we can provide wage increases to our registered nurses."

"It's totally unfair," a registered nurse supporter Steve Williams said at the demonstration. "You know when you're sick they got one of the most important jobs in the world. I mean they are as good as gold, and then they get treated like this? I'd pay for more healthcare so they can have a fair deal."

The Oregon Nurses Association and PeaceHealth's next negotiation session is scheduled for May 8.

Read PeaceHealth's full statement regarding contract negotiations:

Last Wednesday, PeaceHealth engaged in its second full day of mediated negotiations with the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) to negotiate the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement between the parties. The PeaceHealth team was ready to bargain in good faith, however ONA did not appear to share this desire, as they presented several proposals that appear to be a step backward rather than forward. This is very disappointing as we were hopeful that the union would come to the bargaining table ready to work toward consensus so that we can provide wage increases to our Registered Nurses.
While we were unable to reach a tentative contract agreement as we had hoped, we remain committed to reaching a fair and equitable agreement that supports our valued nurses, while sustaining our healing Mission. To date, we have proposed improvements to our nurses’ current contract with market-competitive compensation and benefits that are consistent with, and have been agreed to by their union in other PeaceHealth communities. We are not seeking concessions or takeaways in anyway.
Last week we received a notice from ONA that the union will be conducting an informational picket on Monday, May 1st. Consistent with our Mission, patients will continue to remain our first priority during the informational picketing session and our hope is that we can finalize negotiations in the coming weeks so that we can focus all of our efforts on delivering compassionate, quality care to the Western Lane County patients and families we are privileged to serve.
Our next negotiation session is scheduled for May 8th, and our hope is for this session to be much more productive so we can reach an agreement that our skilled nurses can be proud of.

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