Frontline Workers At PeaceHealth Vote Next Week On Union
Next week, “frontline” workers like surgical support aides and housekeepers at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Hospitals in Eugene and Springfield will vote whether or not to unionize.
Chris Tonry has worked in patient admissions at Sacred Heart for 36 years. She has never been a part of union. Next week, she plans to check the “yes” box to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49. Tonry believes a union could help with inadequate pay raises and understaffing.
Tonry: “If you try to address these big issues by yourself I don’t think you’re going to get anywhere. You need to stand together as a group and sit at the table and negotiate change. I don’t think it’s going to happen one on one.”
In a written statement PeaceHealth’s Chief Administrative Officer Rand O’Leary says “Although we certainly support our caregivers’ right to seek third-party representation, we prefer a relationship where issues of importance can be directly addressed.”
Over the last year, union organizers have met with the almost 1,100 PeaceHealth frontline hospital workers and recently filed a petition to unionize.
Amanda Harp is a Mental Health Tech at Sacred Heart, University District. She thinks a union will give workers in her department “a say in important policy decisions.” Harp also believes union bargaining could lead to better medical insurance coverage.
Harp: “I have a co-worker right now whose wife works at Starbucks and they decided the Starbucks insurance was better and more affordable than what the hospital provides.”
Both Tonry and Harp say they know hospital employees who have been sent to collections or had wages garnished over unpaid balances for treatment at the hospital where they work.
On pay raises and medical insurance plans at PeaceHealth, Rand O’Leary says, “We routinely survey the market to determine where our caregivers fit and make adjustments to maintain a competitive median market position.”
PeaceHealth Sacred Heart service employees will vote yes or no to unionize on May 27 and 28th.
Statement from PeaceHealth CAO Rand O'Leary:
We know that all caregivers—both those who support union representation and those who do not—want the opportunity to be heard on important issues.
Although we certainly support our caregivers’ right to seek third-party representation, we prefer a relationship where issues of importance can be directly addressed. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart’s management team has been listening to caregivers and actively working to address their concerns, in many cases with the caregivers’ involvement. Weekly rounding in our hospitals, town hall forums open to all shifts, caregiver forums held throughout Oregon West Network and executive team attendance at monthly departmental staff meetings are among the many mechanisms we have in place to solicit real-time feedback from caregivers about what they need to be successful in the important work they do.
Understandably, caregivers want to know more about compensation. All PeaceHealth caregivers, including executives, are compensated using the same formula that includes geographic market comparable and internal equity. We routinely survey the market to determine where our caregivers fit and make adjustments to maintain a competitive median market position. This compensation philosophy, along with competitive medical insurance plans, educational opportunities and career growth potential, demonstrates our commitment to our caregivers.
The approximately 1,000 caregivers in the work groups targeted by SEIU will have the opportunity to choose whether or not to be represented by a union when the National Labor Relations Board on May 27 and May 28. We are actively encouraging these caregivers to look at all of the facts and to become fully informed before they cast their votes.
-Rand O’Leary, Chief Administrative Officer, Sacred Heart Medical Center