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PeaceHealth’s homecare nurses agree to a new contract, amid fears of a shutdown

Five women look on as one woman speaks into a microphone at a podium.
Nathan Wilk
Hospice nurse and nurses union representative Jo Turner speaks at an event on December 29, 2023.

Homecare and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart in Springfield have agreed to a contract after over more than one year of bargaining. They say they feared the provider would shut down their services if they went on strike again.

The nurses were seeking the same wage increases as their in-hospital counterparts, arguing they do comparable work.

In April, they authorized an indefinite strike. They said PeaceHealth's most recent offer—a 16% wage increase over four years—wasn’t enough to stop staff from leaving for higher-paying positions.

However, on Monday, the nurses changed course and approved the deal. Jo Turner, the chair of the Executive Committee for the Negotiating Team, said they faced a viable threat of closure.

“Even those nurses that were out on the first picket line voted for the contract,” said Turner. “Fear is so crippling, especially to nurses when they think that their patients are going to be just dumped out into the street.”

KLCC asked PeaceHealth for a response to the nurses’ concerns. In an emailed statement, spokesperson Joe Waltasti said it was prepared to deliver care during the strike, but the situation would have created uncertainty for the unit and the provider.

“PeaceHealth has a commitment to affordable, and sustainable, high-quality care,” said Waltasti. “We are obligated by our mission to be thoughtful stewards of our resources.”

Waltasti said PeaceHealth is grateful for both bargaining teams' work during this process. Turner said the deal leaves out action on critical issues, such as the security needs of nurses who visit sites alone.

“We still have nurses out there that face dangerous situations with little-to-no-backup," said Turner. “It wasn't addressed."

However, Turner said the nurses did win more influence over future workplace violence and hiring discussions. She said they're now focused on moving forward.

"I just want to be able to keep the union strong, and maybe the next negotiations will go smoother," said Turner. "Things can change in four years."

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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