By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
According to the Oregon Employment Department, the health care industry has an incredible 15,000 job openings in Oregon. With so many jobs to fill, especially during a pandemic, employers are competing to fill those positions with $10,000 signing bonuses and personal contact to create bonds. Recruiters are scrambling to find workers and woo them before they accept jobs elsewhere.
Now 3,400 Kaiser Permanente nurses and other health care workers have voted to strike, citing the lack of staffing as one of their complaints, according to KPTV. The union representing workers and Kaiser Permanente dispute what each side considers “safe staffing” levels for patient care. Union workers also want higher wages, while Kaiser contends their employees earn 27% more than the average market wage.
Even before the pandemic, Oregon was rated as the nation’s worst hospital capacity state due to short staffing. Governor Brown passed a huge hospital tax in 2019 and Oregon unions passed anti-competition laws preventing new hospitals from being built and blocking out-of-state nurses from being hired even during a catastrophe or pandemic. With that shortage already in place, Gov. Brown mandated all healthcare workers be vaccinated or lose their job (regardless of antibodies, religious exemptions, occupational risk). This sent thousands of health care staff out of the industry. Governor Brown back-filled some hospitals with National Guard members, but they are not required to be vaccinated which creates situations where an unvaccinated hospital worker is losing their 30-year old job and being replaced by an unvaccinated National Guard officer who does not have the same level of expertise. Furthermore, Oregon received over $5.3 billion in Covid aid and it appears that little of that was spent on increasing hospitalizations and hospital staff which is Oregon’s top concern this fall.
People differ greatly on the vaccine mandate, but people should agree that you can’t have all four things working at the exact same time against our hospitals (1) high hospital taxes (2) aggressive anti-competition laws blocking new hires (3) vaccine mandates and (4) routing Covid relief funds to wasteful government spending that has nothing to do with the pandemic. Yet, the politicians want the free Coivd money and the taxes and the rules without having to make any hard decisions.