By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
St. Charles medical techs have ended a nine-day strike and will return to work Monday while their union and the hospital meet with a federal mediator to negotiate a first contract.
According to a joint press release on Saturday, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and St. Charles will bargain over several days to secure a contract by March 31st.
The contract is expected to address key issues discussed at a recent bargaining session, according to the joint statement.
“The agreement came together as both parties believe patient care is and should be the top priority, the strike has been distracting and difficult for all involved and it is in everyone’s best interest to return to the table and continue bargaining,” the statement said.
About 150 medical techs – radiology techs, therapists, technologists, ultrasound techs and others – officially went on strike March 4th after more than a year of failed negotiations over a first contract.
Members of the union picketed along Neff Road outside the hospital every day during the strike as they sought public support for their efforts.
First-year salary numbers appear to be approved, but a reported sticking point remains on a request from the union for step-increases guaranteeing pay raises each subsequent year of the contract.
During the eight-day strike, the hospital assured the public everything was running smoothly inside with contracted replacement workers.
In the statement, both sides said the federal mediator has been “very helpful and continue to guide bargaining sessions through the end of the month.”
The work stoppage was the first at St. Charles since nurses went on strike in 1980.