By MALLORY GRUBEN
Having met with the union bargaining team 12 times, managers at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview declared impasse and walked away from contract negotiations with a unit of about 14 lab professionals on July 31. The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) said what the hospital called its “last and final offer” failed to meet workers’ expectations of the kind of wage increase that would lessen a staffing crisis.
“It is absolutely unprecedented for management to end negotiations this early in the process and without making any viable offers or concessions at the table,” OFNHP President Jonathon Baker said in a prepared statement. Baker works in the lab at the Longview hospital.
The previous contract for lab professionals expired June 30, so workers can now call for a strike. OFNHP said PeaceHealth’s declaration of an impasse increases the likelihood that will happen. The union represents lab professionals at the hospital who test blood, tissue, and other samples from patients. OFNHP leaders said they will file an unfair labor practice charge against PeaceHealth for bad faith bargaining.
OFNHP is also bargaining contracts at PeaceHealth hospitals in Vancouver and Eugene and facing similar staffing and wages issues in those negotiations. Another 950 members of PeaceHealth Southwest’s service and maintenance unit begin bargaining their contract later this summer. If negotiations break down across the PeaceHealth system it could lead to a strike of nearly 1,400 workers across two states.