Judge denies St. Charles’ injunction request; medical tech strike moves forward

A federal judge on Tuesday denied St. Charles Health System’s injunction request to delay a planned strike this week by its medical techs.

According to a statement from the hospital, the judge said the court did not have the authority to issue the injunction because the issue is being heard by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We had hoped the courts would give us additional time to get back to the bargaining table with the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals so that we could reach a contract agreement without an impact to our patients,” said Aaron Adams, president of St. Charles Bend. “We are disappointed in the outcome but will continue our preparations to hire and onboard replacement workers and minimize disruptions to our patients and community.”

About 150 medical techs and therapists are scheduled to strike on Thursday at 8 a.m.

The two sides are at odds over an initial contract and “fair wage and working conditions” according to the OFNHP union. Negotiations have lasted for more than a year.

The hospital has filed two unfair labor practice claims against the union saying the strike notice was illegal and they were not bargaining in good faith. A decision from the NLRB isn’t expected until the end of the month.

On Monday the hospital said it hoped the judge would intervene, but had contracted to hire replacement workers if the strike moved forward.

St. Charles said the two sides will meet again to negotiate on March 10 with a federal mediator as previously scheduled.

Sam Potter, the union representative, issued a statement saying the judge “implored the two parties to negotiate out a settlement to avert the strike.”

“This is what the union has been asking for over the past several weeks, but St. Charles is unwilling to negotiate a settlement in advance of the strike date. Instead, they are willing to put all of Central Oregon at risk,” Potter said.

In the statement, a 40-year-employee of the hospital said they want nothing more than to avert the strike.

“We are being given no choices,” said DeeDee Schumacher. “We can’t just continue with our low wages and disrespectful working conditions.”

The union’s statement concludes by saying the hospital hasn’t been able to fill the vacancies the strike will cause.

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