Legacy Health Systems is challenging a union election by nurses at Unity Center for Behavioral Health, Portland’s only 24-hour psychiatric emergency facility. The facility is operated by Legacy Health as a joint venture with several other health networks.
On June 19, a unit of 202 registered nurses voted overwhelmingly to join Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). The tally was 128 to 25.
Legacy Health argued to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that Unity Center was part of a broader health system that includes Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and that because of that, nurses couldn’t create a separate bargaining unit. Legacy Emanuel Hospital nurses are non-union.
The NLRB’s regional director ruled against Legacy and allowed the election to take place.
On July 11, Legacy Health asked the NLRB’s appointed board in Washington, D.C., to review the regional director’s decision to allow the election to be held. The NLRB can either grant or deny the request. ONA expected a decision by the end of July. (A decision had not been announced at press time.)
If the NLRB grants the request for review, oral arguments from ONA and Unity’s legal counsel will be made in Washington, D.C., in front of the full NLRB.
The Board is controlled by three Trump appointees who have been issuing management-friendly decisions since taking charge. One Obama appointee remains on the Board, and one seat is vacant.
“Legacy’s request to have the NLRB review the decision from the regional director is another tactic to suppress the voice of nurses at Unity Center,” ONA said in a written statement. “Legacy has repeatedly said they value the opinions, expertise and input of nurses from Unity. If that were true they would respect the results of the vote. This is a tactic to delay bargaining and confuse the public, patients and nurses. Nurses at Unity Center are moving forward with elections for their bargaining team and expect Legacy to meet them at the table during contract negotiations.”