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Judge won’t issue injunction; St. Charles Bend medical tech workers’ strike still on

(Update: Union issues new statement)

150 workers set to walk out on Thursday; replacement workers being hired

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A federal judge in Eugene on Tuesday refused St. Charles Health System's request for an injunction to block a walkout planned Thursday by about 150 unionized medical tech workers still seeking their first contract.

St. Charles issued the following news release Tuesday morning, after the hearing. (We have also reached out to the union for a statement.)

"St. Charles Health System is disappointed that a federal judge declined to grant an injunction request today that would have paused the strike of its technical employees that is planned to start at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 4. The judge indicated the federal court did not have the authority to issue an injunction based upon the fact that the issue is being heard by the National Labor Relations Board. 

“We had hoped the courts would give us additional time to get back to the bargaining table with the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, so that we could reach a contract agreement without an impact to our patients,” said Aaron Adams, president of St. Charles Bend. “We are disappointed in the outcome, but will continue our preparations to hire and onboard replacement workers and minimize disruptions to our patients and community.” 

"The issue of legality of the strike notice is still being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board. The St. Charles team anticipates a decision by the NLRB by the end of March. 

"The parties will meet again to negotiate on March 10 with a federal mediator, as previously scheduled," the statement concluded.

St. Charles claimed the union, which gave a 10-day strike notice last week, is required by federal labor law to provide 30 days notice, which the OFNHP disputes.

Here's the OFNHP news release:


While the hospital tried to pre-empt the NLRB by filing a lawsuit to stop Thursday’s strike, judge rules that the crisis was “of their own making.”

BEND, Ore.— On March 2nd, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and St. Charles Medical Center met in federal court as the hospital sued the union in an effort to stop their workers from striking. Claiming that the procedures were not followed and that the strike would create a danger for the community, the hospital tried to get an injunction. As expected, the judge ruled against them, noting that the federal court did not have jurisdiction and that St. Charles’ lawsuit was without merit.

“I know we’re in pandemic, to some degree the emergency is one of their own making and cannot be excused to ignore the workers on the front line,” said the ruling judge to St. Charles’ attorney. He then implored the two parties to negotiate out a settlement to avert the strike. This is what the union has been asking for over the past several weeks, but St. Charles is unwilling to negotiate a settlement in advance of the strike date. Instead, they are willing to put all of Central Oregon at risk.

 “We want more than anything to avert the strike and focus on patient care, but St. Charles is forcing this to happen,” says DeeDee Schumacher, a tech and 40-year employee of St. Charles. “We are being given no choices. We can’t just continue with our low wages and disrespectful working conditions.”

So far, the hospital has not shown their ability to fill vacancies created by the strike with replacement workers, meaning that it is uncertain how they will operate the hospital come Thursday. Right now the employees are planning to walk off the job Thursday morning, unless the hospital returns to the table and settles the contract in the preceding hours. The strike was authorized by 94% of the medical therapists, technicians and technologists at St. Charles, an unprecedented number.

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