WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten congratulates the 155 therapists, technicians, and technologists at St Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, who ratified a momentous first contract last night after 15 months at the bargaining table and a 9-day strike. The hospital staff union, St Charles United, is affiliated with the Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, a state affiliate of the AFT.
“This contract proves, once again, that when you come together as a union you can accomplish what isn’t possible alone,” Weingarten said. “I am so proud of the newest members of the OFNHP and AFT family who organized for years and fought fiercely at the bargaining table and on the picket line to a win a fair first contract. This historic agreement delivers on their faith with immediate boosts to pay and conditions and a permanent and enduring voice on the job.”
The three-year contract includes average hourly wage increases of 25 percent across the bargaining unit. It contains pay equity clauses that ensure every member is paid commensurate with their experience, including a disproportionate number of women who are paid less than their male counterparts; a grievance procedure; an end to mandatory overtime abuse; and a voice in the workplace via a labor management committee and a seat at the hospital staffing committee.
“On Thursday morning, after sacrificing so much during months of grueling negotiations in the middle of a pandemic, workers will start a new chapter at St Charles,” Weingarten added. “The 1.7 million strong AFT will stand with them to ensure these gains are sustained and expanded as they continue to organize for dignity and justice with the protections of a union contract in hand. We thank the OFNHP, the Oregon Nurses Association, the medical staff, the community, and elected officials for their support.
“Their union—and the entire US labor movement—has their back.”