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McKenzie Willamette Hospital Workers Want Fewer Layoffs, More Charity

Ken Charpie
Karen Richards

Community before profit. That's the message caregivers from McKenzie-Willamette hospital's union want their management to adopt.

Since the hospital went for-profit in 2003, members of SEIU Local 89 say the Mckenzie-Willamette Medical Center makes more money than almost every hospital in Oregon. It also has one of the worst records for charity care. They'd like to re-balance that trend. Tuesday, union members read a message to the hospital's leadership:

(GROUP) "This holiday season, caregivers are being let go while those left are faced with having to do more with less."

In the past two weeks, union members say, 30 people received notice their jobs will be reduced or eliminated January first. Ken Charpie is a medical technician. He says there's a reason not many people attended Tuesday's event:

Charpie: "I think there's a culture of fear here. There is a fear of speaking up. The hospital's firing people."

Most of the protestors were part of the union's bargaining team. They have had two meetings so far, with little progress. Another bargaining session takes place Wednesday. Calls to the hospital administration had not been returned as of air time.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.