Health care unions hold rally outside RiverBend over contract negotiations

Workers are worried about layoffs, longer hours and say the quality of care would suffer.

Posted: Jun 28, 2018 7:34 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 5:49 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Union workers at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend rallied outside of the hospital Tuesday over ongoing contract negations.

The Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association, which represents 44 PeaceHealth hospitalists, is in federal contract mediations with the company. The two haven’t had a contract since October of 2017.

PNWHM was the first union of it's kind when it formed in 2014. The issue that brought them together is now front and center again: outsourcing doctors to a management company. As part of this outsourcing, doctors no longer work for a hospital, but for a hiring organization.

“These are companies that simply don’t care about the people in Springfield Eugene,” said Dr. David Schwartz of PNWHM. “All they want to do is come in here and make some money off this hospital.”

The Oregon Nurses Association, another union, also attended the rally as part of efforts to stop PeaceHealth from going from 8-hour shifts to 12 hours for some nurses. Lynda Pond of the Oregon Nurses Association said PeaceHealth also plans to consolidate some nursing roles. She believes the changes would cause layoffs, the quality of care would go down and costs would go up.

"Twelve-hour shifts increase medication errors,” Pond said. “They increase missed moments of care for patients and they increase nursing physical injuries.”

In a statement Thursday, a spokesperson for PeaceHealth said they want to reach an agreement as soon as possible with the unions so they can focus on their mission of serving their patients with the highest quality of care.

“I can’t predict what will happen, but what I can say is the union is going to remain, and it's going to continue on trying to be a firewall between bad administrative decisions and the patents that we serve,” Schwartz said.

The rally didn’t impact operations at the hospital.

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