By DON McINTOSH
Hospital techs at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles have ratified their first-ever union contract, almost 18 months after they voted 45 to 4 to join Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals in September 2021.
The contract covers around 75 workers, including respiratory therapists, MRI radiology techs, surgical techs, ultrasound echo sonographers.
Starting April 1, it sets new standardized wage scales that match experience, ending the arbitrary way that wages were assigned. Wages will increase 4% across the board Jan. 1, 2024 and Jan. 1, 2025. The contract also provides daily overtime pay, including double time when working more than 16 hours.
Significantly for workers who never had a union contract before, the contract provides basic union rights, including discipline only for just cause, the right to be represented by the union in cases of discipline, and a grievance process to contest unfair discipline.
It also sets union rights, like an opportunity for the union to meet with new hires during orientation.
Negotiations were challenging, said OFNHP spokesperson Shane Burley, and were complicated by the fact that the hospital ownership changed hands during bargaining. Eventually mediation was necessary. Workers posted fliers at the work site, placed yard signs in the community, and wore buttons in the workplace.
Ratified unanimously, the contract runs through Dec. 31, 2025