McKenzie-Willamette workers strike for two days

Workers represented by SEIU 49 ended their two day strike at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center on Thursday morning. CNAs, dieticians, housekeeping staff, and more struck for fair wages, affordable healthcare, and to stop outsourcing of jobs. The union is set to return to the bargaining table Tuesday and if they do not receive an adequate offer from management they could strike again.

Gypsy Smith is a housekeeper at McKenzie-Willamette and is one of the 100 workers whose job is set to be outsourced on October 24. Smith started the job at the beginning of the pandemic, but says she also knows co-workers who have worked at the hospital for several decades that are facing outsourcing. “People who devoted their lives and risked [their] lives are being betrayed,” Smith said. “[McKenzie-Willamette] just betrayed us, discarded us, and people are being forgotten.”

In addition to facing outsourcing, all members of the bargaining unit, which represents over 400 workers in 100 different jobs, are fighting a 27% raise to healthcare costs over the next three years. Workers are also seeking competitive wages from their company that received $4.5M in CARES act funds.

Many community members showed up to support including allied unions and politicians. Members of GTFF, SEIU 503, ATU, ONA, Roofers, UFCW 555, AFSCME, OSEA, OFNHP, and SEA showed their support on the picket line. John Gangl, who works for LTD and is the recording secretary of ATU 757, said he remembers when the healthcare workers had his union’s back and it is important to stand up for these workers now.

They expect to begin the process of getting a fair contract this week, but could also be back on the picket line.

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