By COLIN STAUB
A newly formed union, the Central Oregon Providers Network (COPN), has requested a union election among 304 medical professionals St. Charles Medical Group.
The union, an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) would represent doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, counselors, therapists, certified nurse-midwives, perfusionists (who assist with open heart surgery), and some registered nurses. They work at more than 40 locations St. Charles operates across Central Oregon.
Workers want a union in order to secure safe staffing, workplace equity, and better recruitment and retention.
St. Charles management has a poor history of union negotiations. In 2011, 600 hospital support workers joined SEIU, but they never got a contract, and voted out the union 21 months later. Then in 2019, medical technologists at St. Charles voted to join Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP). Eighteen months later, St. Charles representatives decided to stop bargaining with the union, and workers had to strike to get a first contract.
Most RNs at St. Charles are in Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). Both ONA and OFNHP are affiliates of AFT.
COPN filed the election petition June 3 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); as of press time no election date had been set.