St. Charles responds to OFNHP strike notice
BEND, Ore. – St. Charles Health System was disappointed to receive a 10-day strike notice from OFNHP today for a strike of indefinite duration beginning March 4. OFNHP represents about 150 technical employees at the St. Charles Bend hospital campus.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic where St. Charles and all of our caregivers have been at the forefront of treating our community members with COVID-19. Our organization is also deeply involved in running large-scale community vaccination clinics for three counties alongside our Deschutes County partners,” said Aaron Adams, president of St. Charles Bend and Redmond. “While this strike notice cannot slow our efforts to meet these critical community needs, it just adds new – and unnecessary – challenges when our community needs us most.”
The timing of this notice is completely inconsistent with what OFNHP has been asking of St. Charles. As recently as Saturday, the two parties were in discussion with a federal mediator to see if new dates for bargaining could be set in addition to the March 10 date that is already scheduled. The mediator offered dates on March 3, 4 or 5, which were under consideration when the strike notice was delivered. Because OFNHP has chosen to strike, St. Charles will now be required to direct its time to strike preparation rather than negotiations and will be unable to meet during the notice period.
The St. Charles bargaining team has been waiting since Dec. 3 for OFNHP to respond to its last negotiation offer. St. Charles and OFNHP have met 28 times to negotiate the first-time contract – 23 of them during a global pandemic.
“While the surge in COVID-19 cases over the past few months has made it difficult to continue bargaining with full bargaining teams, we have invited OFNHP to provide a comprehensive response via email or over the phone. OFNHP has not chosen to do so,” said Rebecca Berry, vice president of Human Resources for St. Charles Health System. “If OFNHP believes that progress is not being made, it needs to look at its own decisions. We were concerned enough about the lack of progress that we suggested bringing in a federal mediator and OFNHP agreed. Now, OFNHP has issued a strike notice without ever meeting with a mediator even though it had already agreed to the specific date of March 10 for our next session. We don’t understand OFNHP’s strategy.”
Because St. Charles leaders are concerned that OFNHP is bargaining in bad faith – and in doing so jeopardizing the patients in our community – the health system plans to file an unfair labor practice charge of bad faith bargaining with the National Labor Relations Board so that these concerns can be fully addressed.
“Again, we reiterate our disappointment in OFNHP’s decision,” Berry said. “St. Charles will take all necessary steps to ensure that care for our community continues in a safe and uninterrupted way.”
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, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,600 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.