McKenzie Willamette workers strike again for COVID protections, affordable healthcare

Over 300 Workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center who are represented by SEIU 49 began their second strike of this year earlier this week. Workers walked out at 7 AM on a rainy Monday after the hospital did not provide a fair offer at the bargaining table following their two day strike in October.

Workers are asking for basic benefits that many other frontline workers are receiving. Management has not given them hazard pay, like workers at PeaceHealth and Kaiser have received. In addition the union is fighting for better care for those that get COVID. Only if you are a full time worker you can get one week of paid time off of your own if you can prove you got COVID at the hospital and have to jump through multiple hoops to get reimbursed after the fact. Management is also proposing a 15% increase to healthcare costs over the next three years.

This comes while McKenzie-Willamette, owned by Tennessee based Quorum Health Corp, has received $5.7M in federal bailout funds during the pandemic. McKenzie-Willamette also recently outsourced about 70 caregivers earlier this month to Texas-based HHS. The union says even though the outsourcing went through, they are still fighting for protections for them and are seeking to prevent any further outsourcing.

No date has been set for a future bargaining date and workers say the ball is in management’s court. Workers will continue their strike until 7 AM Saturday and will be out on the picket line on Thursday and Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM.