By DON McINTOSH
In a contested election for president of Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), medical technologist Jonathon Baker outpolled first-term incumbent Jodi Barschow, an RN at Kaiser Permanente.
Baker, 31, is the first member from the PeaceHealth system to lead OFNHP, which is an independent affiliate of American Federation of Teachers. He’s also a member of the union’s smallest bargaining unit, PeaceHealth St. John in Longview, where he’s worked in a lab the last six years.
OFNHP represents 5,200 nurses, lab techs, and other professional health care workers at Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Southwest Washington, plus technologists at St. Charles Hospital in Bend and three PeaceHealth hospitals: Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, St. John Medical Center in Longview, and Sacred Heart Riverbend Medical Center in Springfield.
Baker took office May 5. President is the union’s top elected office, and is a full-time paid position. Members take leave from their regular employer to oversee staff and take part in bargaining. The term of office is two years.
Baker comes from a family of nurses, and initially served in the U.S. Air Force seven years, stationed at bases in England and Montana. At PeaceHealth, he first got active in the union as a steward, and then became a member of the union executive board and chair of his bargaining unit, and helped bargain his unit’s most recent contract.
As president, Baker says priorities include hiring a full time staffperson to train union officers and develop them as leaders. OFNHP’s contracts with PeaceHealth are up next year, so he’ll also be involved in bargaining those. And he’ll continue efforts to bargain a first union contract for workers at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles.
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Baker as the first non-RN member to lead OFNHP.]