Patients Over Profit: PeaceHealth Hospice and Home Care Nurses Strike

PeaceHealth Hospice and Home Care nurses strike for the first time in 40 years after fighting for an unprecedented year at the bargaining table

PeaceHealth canceled its last meeting with the Oregon Nurses Association and a federal mediator on Jan. 23, days after receiving notice that home care and hospice nurses were planning to strike. The ONA filed an unfair labor practice charge for PeaceHealth’s refusal to meet prior to the strike. 

This is not the first time ONA has filed an unfair labor practice charge against PeaceHealth. Earlier this month, ONA filed one for trying to strip away striking nurses’ health insurance. PeaceHealth backed down after striking nurses agreed to work for one day during the strike. 

“They had the chance to make things right and they chose to just say, ‘Fine, go ahead and strike,’” hospice nurse and ONA executive director Jo Turner says. “That meeting could have made a difference, but now we’ll never know.”

The strike kicked off Saturday Feb. 10 with a picket line at PeaceHealth Home Care Services in Springfield. More than 90 PeaceHealth hospice and home care nurses plan to partake in the two-week long strike. 

The strike comes after what lead negotiator Claire Syrett described as an “unprecedented year” at the bargaining table with PeaceHealth over equal pay between hospice/home care nurses and nurses that work in PeaceHealth medical centers. Syrett says that hospice and home care nurses have been continuing to drive out to patients’ homes and provide care and assistance under an expired contract since April 2023. 

“We have always been paid the same as hospital nurses. Our contracts have always mirrored each other for the past 40 years,” Turner says. “Now all of the sudden, we’re not important.”

Syrett says that medical center nurses received an 8 percent increase in wages after finalizing their contract last August 2023. Home care nurses have not seen a raise since July 2022. So far, PeaceHealth has offered a 5.25 percent increase over the course of four years, which calculates to roughly $2 million. Syrett points out that CEO of PeaceHealth Liz Dunne received a $2 million raise in 2021.

Eugene Weekly reached out to PeaceHealth for comment, but did not receive a response. 

Health care workers went back on the picket lines on Wednesday Feb. 14 for a Labor of Love’ rally to show solidarity with hospice and home-care nurses. Kevin Mealy, communication manager at ONA, says around 40 people showed up, including but not limited to representatives from Teamsters 206, Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWMA), Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) and Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN). 

Mealy says PeaceHealth’s closure of Sacred Heart Medical Center University District in December ramped up the need for home-care and hospice nurses, but without equal pay many nurses are willing to find work elsewhere. 

“They have already lost 30-plus home-care nurses in the last year and more than 30 said they will leave if they don’t get equal pay,” Mealy says. “PeaceHealth hopes that these nurses care too much to step away, but the truth is they care too much not to stand up to PeaceHealth.”

Turner, who has been a hospice nurse for over 12 years, says that patients are already feeling an impact from the strike. “The patients are upset. They’re mad. They’re calling in saying, ‘Why hasn’t anyone come out here?’” Turner says. “Things are falling apart here and they’re sitting in Bellingham.” PeaceHealth’s headquarters are in Bellingham, Washington. 

The nurses say they want to get back to work, but need their demands to be met. “I’ve taken care of a newborn on the coast for three days until the little girl died because that is what we’re willing to do,” Turner says. “If we’re willing to do that, why won’t you provide us with respect and equal pay?”

To learn more about the home-care and hospice nurse strike go to

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