Local News

St. Charles Nurses Authorize Strike

BEND, OR -- Nurses at St. Charles Bend have voted to authorize a strike at the hospital. The vote closed Sunday evening and the Oregon Nurses Association says participation was nearly 100% of the 962 nurses eligible to vote.

Contract negotiations continue Tuesday and Wednesday with hospital management. ONA says nurses will also meet this week to begin strike preparations.

When a strike is called, the union says it will give St. Charles a 10-day notice "to allow management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage."

Responding to KBND's request for an interview, St. Charles Health System sent this statement from Julie Ostrom, Senior Nursing Leader and member of the St. Charles bargaining team:

“This vote is not a surprise and is a fairly standard step in the negotiation process. This vote does not mean a strike will occur and we continue to be committed to reaching a contract agreement in the coming weeks.

While ONA’s strike tactics are not unexpected, we believe they are detrimental to our shared goals of recruiting and retaining quality nursing staff.

We have every intention of coming to an agreement and we are looking forward to two productive bargaining sessions this week, followed by four additional sessions in June. In the unlikely event we are unable to reach an agreement, we want to reassure our patients and community that our doors will remain open to provide care.”

At St. Charles, we have made numerous strides in our goals of recruiting and retaining our nursing staff. A recent $5 hourly wage increase for all bedside nurses puts St. Charles wages among the highest in the state (for an average annual full-time base salary of $108,000 a year, not including premium and overtime pay). ONA’s data analyst confirmed in recent bargaining that our nurses are currently among the highest paid in the state and nurses in Oregon are among the top paid in the nation. 

We can see that these efforts for recruitment and retention are working. Turnover among our Bend nursing staff is declining and in 2022 St. Charles Bend reported its lowest turnover rate in three years.


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