Providence nurses vote to ratify new contract

Providence Medford Medical Center nurses have voted in favor of a two-year contract that includes up to a 9.5 percent wage hike and better working conditions.

The Medford hospital’s 287 nurses, part of the Oregon Nurses Association, voted on the contract Saturday, according to an ONA news release. It is the final step in the negotiations process, and it is effective immediately.

New nurses will see a 3 percent pay increase to $35.50 per hour, followed by another 2 percent increase toward the end of 2018, and a third 1 percent increase in 2019, ONA spokesman Kevin Mealy has said. “Based on experience,” other nurses who have worked at the hospital longer will see pay increases of up to 9.5 percent.

“This increase is essential to help Providence Medford Medical Center recruit and retain nurses during Oregon’s projected nursing shortage,” the release says, adding that a 6,000-nurse shortage is expected statewide by 2025.

Under the new agreement, nurses with specialized training will also see increased “certification pay.” Improvements to scheduling and integrating new nurses more quickly are also part.

“We believe the agreement provides a market-competitive package,” a statement from Providence Medford human resources director Julie Levison says. “It also allows us to continue our collaboration with our nurses to make sure our workplace is ready to meet the needs of our patients and provide them with high-quality care.”

Prior to the ratification vote, nurses had been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2017, and had been bargaining prior to that date. On April 10 of this year, more than 200 nurses and area residents held an “informational picket” outside the hospital after bargaining broke down due to both sides failing to come to an agreement on scheduling issues.

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