Caregivers at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Make History

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After forming their union with SEIU Local 49, more than 1,000 caregivers win a first contract that includes significant wage increases, affordable healthcare, staffing improvements and more

Caregivers at Sacred Heart

The contract is a historic one – the largest healthcare contract for a group of newly organized caregivers in Oregon for close to two decades.

Caregivers at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center (SHMC) voted overwhelmingly to ratify a historic first union contract that includes significant wage increases and access to more affordable healthcare, while providing local caregivers with a voice in patient care and staffing levels.

With this contract victory, the 1,100 caregivers of SHMC have a real way in which to make improvements on the job. The three-year contract includes: an average wage increase of over 21% over the life of the contract with step increases and increase to differential pay; improved scheduling; increased opportunities to earn overtime; more affordable family healthcare; and improvements to staffing and workplace safety.

The end result of the vote was 533 ‘yes’ votes to 11 ‘no’ votes.

SHMC caregivers are now members of SEIU Local 49, a union that represents more than 11,000 workers across Oregon and Southwest Washington including acute care and clinic personnel, licensed practical nurses (LPN), certified nursing assistants (CNA), registration representatives, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, radiologic technologists, and other front-line professional and technical workers.

The contract is a historic one – the largest healthcare contract for a group of newly organized caregivers in Oregon for close to two decades. Now a majority of caregivers who work at Sacred Heart are members of a union.

“This is about having a voice in the care we provide to our patients," said Anna Blackman, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Sacred Heart. "Winning considerable wage increases with more incentive pay means improvements to staffing levels that will ultimately also lower turnover. This allows us to focus on what is most important – providing quality care."

“It is great to see that Sacred Heart is taking steps to invest back into our community by supporting caregivers and the patients we care for,” said Lorie Quinn, an EVS worker at Sacred Heart. “With this contract, we now have respect on the job.”

Caregivers at Sacred Heart organized their union to address issues around chronic short-staffing, quality affordable care, fair wages and respect on the job. From the beginning, caregivers were supported by doctors and nurses who have also formed their own respective unions at Sacred Heart.

“With healthcare costs at an all-time high, it is phenomenal that we’ve made healthcare more affordable for those who dedicate themselves to providing care to our community," said Amanda Newman, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Sacred Heart. "This includes 100 percent of medical premiums paid for lower-income employees. We are glad to see that PeaceHealth Sacred Heart is taking some of its 90 million in profits and reinvesting it into front-line caregivers and quality care.”

“This contract stands testament to what caregivers can do when they stand together to demand a voice in the care they provide," said Meg Niemi, President of SEIU Local 49. "As part of SEIU Local 49, these 1,100 workers now join caregivers across the PeaceHealth system who are part of our union. Together they have a powerful, collective voice to continue making improvements for patients, caregivers and their families. And they join more than 100,000 SEIU members across Oregon and Washington who are collectively fighting for fair wages and good jobs, and making a difference for working families.”


SEIU Local 49 represents more than 11,000 members including certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, laboratory assistants and other healthcare workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. This includes caregivers at PeaceHealth St. Johns and PeaceHealth Labs in Longview, Washington. SEIU is the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the country, representing over a million healthcare members and over two million members overall.

In 2015, the PeaceHealth system had a net patient revenue of $2.3 billion and more than $153.9 million in profits (revenues in excess of expenses). Of PeaceHealth’s 9 hospitals , Sacred Heart and St Joseph’s produced the vast majority of operating income for the system. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart reported $94 million in profits (net income) in 2014.

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Jesse Stemmler