Nurses vote out union at hospital in Ontario, Oregon

Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, Oregon. | PHOTO COURTESY FACEBOOK

By COLIN STAUB

A unit of nurses at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in eastern Oregon appear to have rejected union representation.

For over a decade, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) has represented a unit of about 75 nurses at Saint Alphonsus, located in Ontario, Oregon, near the Idaho border. Early this year, hospital management declared that nurses no longer wanted union representation. The hospital didn’t provide evidence, but stopped allowing union reps on site, and tossed out union literature, according to ONA.

ONA filed five separate unfair labor practice charges against management, all of which are still pending with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They say that Saint Alphonsus refused to recognize the union, refused to bargain, terminated workers for union support, and made coercive statements to dissuade union interest.

The union asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election to reaffirm workers’ support for ONA. Although ONA requested that ballots be sealed until the unfair labor practices were resolved, the NLRB ultimately only agreed to delay certification, not to delay the ballot count. The decision went up to the national board, which ruled against ONA in Aug. 23 and Oct. 12 decisions.

ONA says management continued offering incentives to vote against the union throughout the election, which concluded Aug. 11. When ballots were finally counted on Oct. 19, the results were 44 votes against the union, and 16 in favor.

“Our hope is the NLRB will see management not recognizing ONA as our representative and not following our contract as unlawful, then quickly bring management back to the table with our ONA member bargaining team,” union officers said in an October update to the bargaining unit. 

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