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St. Charles home health, hospice nurses vote to form union

(Update: Adding video)

Current St. Charles Bend nurses contract expires at year's end; talks upcoming

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Nearly three-dozen home health and hospice nurses with St. Charles Health System overwhelmingly voted to form a union with the Oregon Nurses Association in an election on Thursday supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, the union announced Friday.

The newly represented nurses, numbering 34 at present, filed to join the union in early October because they "want input in local decision-making, because they know what their patients need," ONA said.

St. Charles provided this statement in response to the union vote:

"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the election, we respect the rights of our caregivers to be represented by a union and over the coming months, we will work with the union to reach a contract that meets both of our interests," said Debbie Robinson, director of Home-Based Care. "The St. Charles Home Health, Hospice and Transitions programs are very special and we are proud to work with a team of professionals dedicated to ensuring a safe, secure environment for our patients and colleagues."

Here's the rest of the ONA news release:

By forming a union, the union said, "They will ensure home health and hospice nurses receive fair treatment, access to due process and adequate compensation and local patients receive high-quality, accessible health care."

“Despite opposition from administration, we remain united in our endeavor and today’s vote reflects that. I look forward to a collaborative and transparent relationship with St. Charles, so we can give our patients the best care and nurses will feel supported by the health system,” said Karin Arthur, RN.

“Forming a union provides us the opportunity to better advocate for our patients and ourselves,” said Cherie Iannucci, another RN. “We take care of people after they leave the hospital, to prevent them from being readmitted. Readmissions add to the strain that our hospitals face right now due to surging cases of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu.”

In the coming weeks, the represented nurses will establish their bargaining unit bylaws and begin contract negotiation discussions. ONA already represents hospital nurses at St. Charles facilities in Bend, Prineville and Redmond. The contract for nurses at St. Charles-Bend expires at the end of the year and they are already preparing for negotiations.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state including nearly 1,200 frontline nurses working at multiple St. Charles Health facilities in Central Oregon. We are a proud state affiliate of AFT and the American Nurses Association. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

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