Multnomah County Dentists Authorize Strike Amid Concerns That Increased Workloads Will Impact Patient Care Quality

Multnomah County – Multnomah County Dentists, who care for Multnomah County’s most vulnerable residents, have reached a boiling point in their contract negotiations with the County, leading to Dentists overwhelmingly voting to authorize a strike.. They have expressed deep concerns with the County’s current contract offer, which includes a decision to increase the number of patients they see in a week without consideration to how this will impact the quality of care they are able to provide to their patients. This, coupled with the County’s refusal to offer a fair compensation package and additional administrative time has led these unionized workers to authorize a strike. 

Multnomah County Dentists, represented by Oregon AFSCME Local 88, provide a vital service throughout the entire Portland-Metro area, often treating patients who are unsheltered, under-insured, or uninsured altogether. As frontline essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were asked to do more with less resources, a trend that has continued into their current bargaining cycle. They faced layoffs in 2022, while simultaneously increasing workload by up to 20% for many of the remaining dentists, reducing the amount of time they have to care for challenging patient care needs. 

"We are already understaffed and overworked, and the proposal that we have been offered from our employer will only exacerbate the problem,” says Lillian Harewood, a Multnomah County Dentist and Local 88 member. “We need fair compensation, more time to see patients, and more time to complete our required administrative work, and the County is offering us less. It’s time for them to show us that they value the important work that we do to provide critical care for our communities.” 

The Union remains committed to searching for a resolution with the County through mediated bargaining.  However, if an agreement is not reached on October 13, a strike could begin as early as the middle of November.