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McKenzie-Willamette hospital workers vote to support strike

The workers voted overwhelmingly to approve an unfair labor practice strike at the hospital during a strike vote on Monday.

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 7:31 AM
Updated: Aug 13, 2019 6:12 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Hospital workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center who are members of SEIU Local 49 could soon go on strike. 

Workers voted to approve an unfair labor practice strike at the hospital during a strike vote on Monday. A date has not been determined for a possible strike. One additional contract negotiation with hospital management was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13.

"We try to stand up for our caregivers,” says Alejandra Garcia, a nursing assistant and a member of the union. “Nobody likes to ask for better worker conditions. We don't like to complain, but things happen."

According to SEIU Local 49, the 400 workers have been in contract negotiations with management since May and are currently working under an expired contract. It expired July 31. The workers are service, maintenance and technical employees, including certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, dietary workers, surgical technicians and more. 

SEIU Local 49 said a deal cannot be reached because the hospital is bargaining in bad faith, refusing to provide information and interfering with workers’ rights. Inadequate staffing, the hospital’s low wages and unaffordable health care benefits are key concerns in the negotiations, they said. 

Aaron Green, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the hospital and a member of the union, said the contract is critical to the future of all employees.

"That's one of the biggest issues we're fighting over -- the ability to provide the best staffing and the wages to back that up because they kind of go hand and hand,” said Green.

KEZI 9 News reached out to the hospital for further comment and they were unable to give additional details at this time. 

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