Contract talks: Silverton Legacy, nurses’ union negotiating

May 2018 Posted in Other

By Peggy Savage

Local nurses on the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) bargaining team at Silverton Medical Center and administrators with Legacy Health have made significant progress towards reaching a new contract agreement for the hospital nurses during collaborative contract negotiation meetings last week, according to  ONA Communications Director Kevin Mealy.

“To ensure Silverton remains able to recruit and retain skilled health care providers, ONA nurses and Legacy administrators have both proposed improvements to working conditions and wages at the hospital,” Mealy said.

The first round of scheduled contract negotiations between the ONA and Legacy Silverton Medical Center took place at the hospital in February. Since then, negotiations have continued, with several sessions held in March and April, the most recent on May 8. ONA nurses and Legacy administrators are scheduled to meet for additional negotiation sessions May 18, 23 and 30.

“ONA nurses are committed to continuing our work together with Legacy administrators to ensure every person in our community receives high-quality health care close to home,” said Silverton ONA leader and registered nurse Aaren Brown. “We look forward to meeting with Legacy’s administrators in May to keep moving towards a fair agreement that improves our patients’ care.”

Legacy Health spokesman Brian Terrett confirmed that negotiations are underway, but he declined to provide further details, saying it is not policy to discuss negotiations while they are in progress.

Decertification

Terrett did, however, discuss a petition now being reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board that had been submitted by a small group of Silverton Medical Center employees wanting a decertification election.

According to The Center for Union Facts, employees who no longer want a union to represent them may seek an election to determine if their coworkers want to drop the union. Such elections, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), are known as decertification elections. Employees who want to vote a union out must circulate a petition calling for a decertification election.

“From our perspective, Legacy Hospital and Legacy Silverton Medical Center will support all its employees and the decisions they make about their work environment,” Terrett said. “And we will fully support whatever decision that comes out from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the decertification vote. A petition was filed with NLRB by members of Silverton ONA with enough signatures to decertify the union, so they would not be unionized.

“The ONA filed an unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, and we deny any wrongdoing whatever,” Terrett said. “Whatever the National Labor Relations Board decides to do, we will go along with that.”

As spokesperson for the ONA, Mealy responded, saying that most Silverton Medical Center nurses want to stay with the ONA union. Mealy confirmed that the NLRB is reviewing a submission from a group of Silverton Medical Center employees. But, he said, the majority of nurses at Silverton Medical Center have stated they want to maintain a strong voice in their workplace and preserve their right to stand together as ONA members so they can advocate for their patients, families and coworkers.

“Silverton nurses embody ONA’s core values of integrity, respect, solidarity, leadership and professional excellence,” Mealy said. “We’re confident nurses will positively affirm our long-standing relationship, so we can focus on the issues that matter most to local nurses – reaching a fair contract agreement with Legacy Health that ensures all Silverton residents receive the high-quality, low-cost health care they deserve from their hometown hospital.”

During contract negotiations April 26, Silverton’s ONA bargaining team made proposals on economic and non-economic issues while the Legacy bargaining team offered a proposal on wage increases for 2019 with a new step scale.

Proposal

According to the Legacy Silverton Medical Center Proposal, a 1 percent increase in July would be added to the 4 percent raise employees received in January, bringing the total to 5 percent for 2018.

Legacy further proposed a modified rate increase, effective pay period that includes Feb. 1, 2019 (percentage increases vary for each step), and a 2 percent across-the-board increase, effective pay period that includes March 1, 2020.

In addition, Legacy proposed staff nurse wage rates, with BSN differential (4 percent), MSN differential (6 percent), and any other premiums or differentials in addition to the proposed rates. The three-year agreement would expire March 31, 2021.

Counter Proposal

The ONA’s Economic Counter Proposal accepted Legacy’s proposed 2019 scale, but according to an April 27 statement, the bargaining team was concerned about wage increases for 2018 and 2020. The ONA countered that the raise in July 2018 should be 2 percent. Additionally, the ONA proposed a 4 percent raise in 2020.

In its economic counter proposal, ONA also requested four other items that included an agreement on an implementation process for moving employees to newly created steps (movement to step that matches years of experience; no holding people behind) and an evening shift differential of $2.75 (ONA previously proposed $3, current is $2.45).

ONA also presented proposals on retirement and health insurance; an ONA seat on Legacy system-wide benefits committee; and bargaining on decreases to actuarial value of over 30 percent.

Amber Cooper is lead negotiator on behalf of the ONA team for this second contract negotiation with Legacy. The other eight members are nurses from throughout the hospital.

The employer’s team consists of Karen Brady, vice president and chief nursing officer; Amy Reyes, Paul Pharr and Peter Tranby, human resources, and lead negotiator Jackie Damm, a labor lawyer with Portland firm Ogletree Deakins.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.