St. Charles medical techs ratify first-time, 3-year contract

The medical techs, technologists, and therapist at St. Charles in Bend on Wednesday ratified their first union contract.

 The average increase is about 11%, which is consistent with increases received from 2019 through the first quarter of 2021 for non-contracted technical caregivers, according to St. Charles.

Most OFNHP members did not receive wage increases during the bargaining process.

According to a press release by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, it is “a new stage of labor peace and partnership with the hospital.”

Voting on the first-time contract comes days after St. Charles and the union representing the hospital’s medical techs reached a tentative agreement on a first-time contract.

“We have won a groundbreaking new contract, which raises our wages an average of 25% and ensures that we have a strong voice at work.” says Frank Dewolf, a technologist in the Cardiac Cath Lab.

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.

During the eight-day strike, the hospital assured the public everything was running smoothly inside with contracted replacement workers.

The medical techs will also become members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.

“We are so pleased the Bend techs agreed with the compensation philosophy St. Charles has in place for all of its non-contracted caregivers,” said Hillary Forrest, director of Human Resources for St. Charles and a member of the bargaining team.

According to the hospital, the contract provides general wage increases and market adjustments for the first year that will bring the technical caregivers to the same wage level as St. Charles techs at other campuses.

The wage package brings the technical caregivers up to the level of wages they would have already received if they had not voted to unionize in September 2019, according to St. Charles.

“Our bargaining philosophy has been to ensure that all St. Charles caregivers are treated fairly – regardless of if they are unionized,” Forrest said. “We did not provide retroactive pay for the technical caregivers and we achieved our goal of ensuring this group of caregivers is compensated with the same processes and general increases as caregivers who are not part of a union.”

During bargaining, the Bend techs missed out on a potential of four wage and market increases that others have received since the fall of 2019.

After the first year, the contract follows the same wage methodology St. Charles already uses for non-contracted caregivers.

Negotiations on the contract have been taking place since January 2020.

“The wage proposal that was ratified by yesterday’s vote is the same proposal St. Charles put on the bargaining table before the technical caregivers went out on strike,” Forrest said. “As we have said multiple times, no one wins in a strike situation. We are pleased that OFNHP was willing to return to work so we could negotiate the last items in the contract to ensure no future disruptions to patient care.”

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