Oregon Health & Science University administrators today presented a last, best offer to its nurses in an effort to avoid a strike. The revised offer increases wages by 12 percent over the two-year contract and creates a new salary step that puts long-term nurses above all others in the Portland area. Nurses also will receive a signing bonus when the contract is approved. Because money included in this offer will otherwise be used to pay for replacement nurses in the event of strike, this revised offer is on the table only until Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 5 p.m.
"Our nurses are valued members of our institution, and we hope to bring resolution to this stressful issue," said Bonnie Driggers, R.N., M.S., M.P.A., interim associate hospital director for patient care services and one of the OHSU negotiators. "OHSU's offer represents a significant increase in wages and benefits for all our nurses, but particularly rewards those who remain at OHSU on a long-term basis."
Under the revised salary step structure, nurses with 25 or more years of experience will be bumped to a new step, resulting in additional wages on top of the 12 percent increase. Also, entry-level nurses will make more than before. "If approved, this revised contract will give all nurses at OHSU significant wage increases on top of the best benefit package in the nursing community," said Driggers.
The revised OHSU proposal also includes:
A $30 increase in monthly insurance contributions, bringing the total to $445 monthly that OHSU gives full-time nurses to pay for insurance. The revised contract also reopens the enrollment period for nurses to re-evaluate their insurance choices.
A $7.50 an hour added incentive for nurses who work difficult-to-fill shifts.
A cash signing bonus between $200 - $300, depending on full-time status.
OHSU has been preparing for months to ensure that patient care will not be compromised in the event of a strike. If a strike occurs, all procedures, including elective surgeries, are expected to take place as scheduled. The university has contracted with an agency to bring experienced nurses to OHSU as early as Monday, Dec. 17.
Nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association voted last week to reject OHSU's earlier offer, and yesterday the ONA served OHSU with its strike notice. By law, union members cannot walk off the job until Dec. 17 at the earliest.