By Eric Tegethoff
MILWAUKIE, Ore. — Health care workers at an Oregon hospital say they are rallying for livable wages. Members of the Service Employees International Union local 49 are urging Providence Hospital management in Milwaukie to complete bargaining with workers.
Stephanie Shufelt is an emergency room registrar who has worked at Providence for 15 years. She said staff has been stretched thin during the COVID-19 pandemic and she believes they’re making a reasonable request from management.
“Nobody goes in to working for a not-for-profit hospital thinking that they’re going to be wealthy or paid a bunch of money,” Shufelt said. “But at the bare minimum, we should be paid livable wages and have adequate staffing.”
SEIU Local 49 members point out Providence received $509 million from the coronavirus-relief CARES Act and has $12 billion in reserves. They say that money should be used to increase wages for workers.
A Providence spokesperson said the federal aid will cover less than a quarter of their losses and senior leaders are forgoing compensation through the end of the year.
Shufelt said workers want Providence to standardize how raises are given. They haven’t received hazard pay during the pandemic, and many, including Shufelt, have seen their hours cut.
She said workers are struggling financially.
“There are multiple people that I work with that have two jobs now, because they have to. They have to be able to feed their families,” she said.
Shufelt believes workers need more support from Providence to provide the best care possible to their patients.
“We love what we do. We love our community,” she said. “We want to make sure that our hospital is that place that our community can go to to get the care that they need.”
Three bargaining sessions between SEIU representatives and Providence are scheduled in August and September.
Eric Tegethoff writes for Public News Service (OR).
This news story was published August 3 at Public News Service.