By COLIN STAUB
A union-backed recall effort has turned in enough signatures to trigger recall elections for two members of the Bay Area Health District board of directors, which manages the publicly-owned Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Save Bay Area Hospital, a campaign supported by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 and the Oregon Nurses Association, has been collecting signatures to remove all six elected board members from office. The unions cited poor decision making by board members as the motive for the recall. The board last spring hired a hospital administrator who had previously served prison time for defrauding a hospital he used to work for. The board also dragged out contract negotiations with nurses and implemented bargaining proposals that nurses had rejected, according to ONA. UFCW has contributed $55,000 to the recall effort and ONA has contributed $30,000.
On Oct. 18, the campaign announced it submitted enough signatures to the Coos County Clerk’s office to hold a recall election for board members Thomas McAndrew and Donna Rabin. The campaign says it collected enough signatures for recalls of all six candidates, but that boxes containing 2,400 signatures were stolen near the end of the campaign. Though he declined to share details publicly, UFCW lobbyist and recall supporter Mike Selvaggio says the campaign has reason to believe the theft was not politically motivated.
The county clerk has until Nov. 17 to certify the signatures, and a special election would be held within 40 days after certification.
Bay Area Hospital retained Bullard Law, an anti-union law firm, in labor negotiations and to represent it during the recall campaign. Bullard Law attorney Heather Van Meter sent the campaign a cease and desist letter on Aug. 10, alleging the campaign was spreading “false, defamatory information” to generate support for the recall.