Negotiations between the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) and Samaritan have taken a step further down the road towards a new approved contract. A tentative agreement between the nurses’ bargaining team and Samaritan management was reached and is now being considered by voting parties. Voting itself will take place on Friday September 6th, although it is not known when a final tally will be reached.
ONA claims that even though this possible deal is largely similar to the previous one that was voted down within the last few weeks, a few noteworthy changes are present. One of the big ones is a cap on the health insurance premiums, which guarantees nurses more protection than the previous offer by affecting rate increases.
Scheduling and vacation time finally made it into the discussion, but not in any permanent way. A new scheduling software system—Kronos—will be implemented within 6 to 12 months in order to help organize scheduling in a supply and demand sense; however, no claims were made about how this will actively affect the exhausting 72 hours in 7 days shift blocks that Samaritan has chosen to continue despite countless studies linking them to danger for both nurses and patients. While both sides have called for an open discussion from nurses on how to go about fixing the scheduling problems, it doesn’t seem a hopeful sign that a fix isn’t part of the contract itself.
By Johnny Beaver