St. Charles Bend technical caregivers ratify first-time contract
The approximately 150 technical caregivers at St. Charles Bend who are represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals voted yesterday in favor of ratifying their first-time contract
"We are so pleased the Bend techs agreed with the compensation philosophy St. Charles has in place for all of its non-contracted caregivers," said Hillary Forrest, director of Human Resources for St. Charles and a member of the bargaining team.
The contract provides general wage increases and market adjustments for the first year that will bring the technical caregivers to the same wage level as St. Charles techs at other campuses. The wage package brings the technical caregivers up to the level of wages they would have already received if they had not voted to unionize in September 2019. The average increase is about 11%, which is consistent with increases received from 2019 through the first quarter of 2021 for non-contracted technical caregivers. Most OFNHP members did not receive wage increases during the bargaining process.
“Our bargaining philosophy has been to ensure that all St. Charles caregivers are treated fairly – regardless of if they are unionized,” Forrest said. “We did not provide retroactive pay for the technical caregivers and we achieved our goal of ensuring this group of caregivers is compensated with the same processes and general increases as caregivers who are not part of a union."
During bargaining, the Bend techs missed out on a potential of four wage and market increases that others have received since the fall of 2019. After the first year, the contract follows the same wage methodology St. Charles already uses for non-contracted caregivers.
In addition, the St. Charles team held firm throughout negotiations in its belief that all St. Charles caregivers should have a choice as to whether they join a union. The ratified contract is considered an “open shop” and allows current and future St. Charles Bend technical caregivers to choose whether they join the union and pay dues.
Negotiations on the contract have been taking place since January 2020. St. Charles leaders and union representatives met more than 30 times to bargain the contract – all while dealing with a global pandemic and community-wide COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. The technical caregivers participated in a work stoppage that started March 4 even though the team had not yet had its first session with the federal mediator, which was already scheduled for March 10.
“The wage proposal that was ratified by yesterday’s vote is the same proposal St. Charles put on the bargaining table before the technical caregivers went out on strike,” Forrest said. “As we have said multiple times, no one wins in a strike situation. We are pleased that OFNHP was willing to return to work so we could negotiate the last items in the contract to ensure no future disruptions to patient care.”
About St. Charles Health System
St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, Ore., owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,500 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.