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Healthcare workers at McKenzie-Willamette speak out ahead of planned strike

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EUGENE, Ore.-- Healthcare workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center are speaking out ahead of their planned strike beginning October 5 and ending on October 7.


According to SEIU Local 49, a labor union representing some of the workers, McKenzie-Willamette is outsourcing nearly 100 workers in the dietary, housekeeping and linen departments to a Texas based staffing company. 

Aaron Green, a certified nursing assistant at the hospital, said McKenzie-Willamette is making these decisions based on profit.

"You have to provide an adequate living wage to support safety of the patients," said Green. "The hospital is trying to make it cheaper for them and not have as high of standards."

The workers are also striking because they claim there is understaffing, high turnover, low wages and lack of adequate COVID-19 protections.

Gypsy Smith is a housekeeper at McKenzie-Willamette and said she is one of the workers that will be outsourced.

"It's sad to see that people who have worked here for 20, 30, 40 years are treated like they are forgotten," said Smith. "After they have announced the outsourcing, more and more people have left our department."

Smith said she is also looking for another position because of this announcement from the hospital. 

McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center said Friday it will implement its contingency operations plan that will limit some services during the strike. "Care for patients already in our hospital will not be impacted, and our emergency room remains available to accept walk-in patients," said Jana Waterman, hospital spokeswoman.

"McKenzie-Willamette remains committed to bargaining in good faith and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with the SEIU," she said.

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