▶️ St. Charles workers picket for higher wages, ask to bargain with hospital

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

More than 100 St. Charles technologists and technicians gathered on the sidewalks along Neff Road this past week in an effort to secure higher wages and more benefits from the hospital.

The gathering isn’t a strike or a work stoppage, but an informational picket aimed at getting their employer’s attention.

“I want to get fair wages basically from the hospital,” Frank Dewolf, an electrophysiology technologist at St. Charles, said. “I’ve been working here for over ten years now and my income hasn’t increased at all.”

Dewolf said he’s watched other hospitals around the state increase wages for jobs like his, but his own wage has stayed stagnant.

“It makes you feel unwanted,” Dewolf said.

The St. Charles workers, who are members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, have asked the hospital to give them higher wages and more workplace safety provisions for over a year.

Samuel Potter, an organizer with OFNHP, said the hospital has refused to meet with them for the past two months to bargain over contract agreements.

“We know that we deserve respect and we’re willing to fight for it,” Potter said.

A spokesperson for St. Charles responded to a request for comment saying, “the two organizations have met 28 times, including 23 times during the pandemic, and have made good progress toward a first agreement. The primary outstanding issue is wages. St. Charles is awaiting a response from OFNHP on its last offer.”

Potter said the group did receive a proposal from the hospital last week that they’d been waiting for for two months, but the proposal didn’t include an agreement to meet with OFNHP and bargain over that proposal, which is what the group is asking for.

“They’ve been reporting to the media that they’re now waiting on us, which is a little bit disingenuous,” Potter said.

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