SEIU pickets St. Charles Hospital in Bend


Hospital workers and members of the community held an informational picket July 25 at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, where 600 caregivers are trying to secure a first contract. They are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49.

“Caregivers have had over 40 bargaining sessions to date and have yet to see management address their main concerns around having a voice in patient care, having good jobs with living wages, and affordable health care,” said union spokesperson Felisa Hagins in a press release.

The union won a narrow organizing victory in January 2011. Oftentimes employers in close elections will use stall tactics to avoid reaching agreement because federal labor law allows a minority of workers (30 percent) to file for a decertification election if a contract isn’t in place after 12 months.

A decert was filed in February.

The National Labor Relations Board has not set an election date, however, as it is investigating several  unfair labor practice charges SEIU filed contending that the hospital and its team of hired consultants had engaged in illegal and coercive tactics to intimidate employees into voting against the union.

Since voting for Local 49, several union activists have been disciplined, and some terminated.

St. Charles is the largest employer in Central Oregon. At the same time that caregivers were picketing, hospital CEO Jim Deigal was announcing St. Charles’ intentions of acquiring Mountain View Community Hospital in Madras.


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