Oregon hospital, nurses halt negotiations

  1. Hospital, nurses halt negotiations
    JOE ROJAS-BURKE
    The Oregonian, 01/17/02
    http://www.oregonlive.com/morenews/o...7111119211.xml

    Striking nurses and leaders of Oregon Health & Science University broke off negotiations late Wednesday as the strike passed day 31.

    No new talks are scheduled.

    Union leaders said they would hold out until OHSU agrees to put more money on the table for a two-year contract. Nurses also are pushing the medical center to improve health coverage and drop its proposed limits on union communications in the workplace, said Kathleen Sheridan, negotiator for the Oregon Nurses Association.

    Administrators at the state's busiest medical center say OHSU can't afford to pay what the nurses are asking, given the uncertain economy and the need for the nonprofit hospital to safeguard its reserves.

    "We would love for our nurses to come back to work. On the other hand, we need to be able to afford the contract," said Bonnie Driggers, OHSU nursing director.

    The two sides have edged closer after three drawn-out mediation sessions during the past four weeks. OHSU offered to raise by $20,000 per year the tuition reimbursement that is split among nurses. And the medical center proposed to develop a more affordable health insurance option.

    But Sheridan, the union negotiator, said the university made the tuition money contingent on the nurses' accepting restrictions on union e-mail and other communications. She said the health proposal would take years to develop, leaving nurses struggling with steeply increasing costs. Meanwhile, both sides prepared for a strike that could linger.

    The nurses association has expanded picketing to regularly include downtown bridges and all night at OHSU.

    Nurses plan to rally today, the one-month anniversary of the strike, with a contingent of sympathetic nurses from Alaska and a leader of the United American Nurses, the national labor arm of the American Nurses Association.

    An OHSU official said the medical center has enough replacement and permanent nurses to function close to prestrike capacity, which should improve its revenues.

    Patient admissions filled the medical center to 81 percent of capacity Wednesday morning, near normal for January and higher than on the same day last year. According to the medical center, 310 of the 1,500 union nurses have returned to work.

    OHSU's strike-related costs, however, still run to hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. And on Friday, a lack of specially trained pediatric nurses forced OHSU not to accept transfers of children needing critical care, leaving Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital to handle those patients.
    •  
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   -jt
    <An OHSU official said the medical center has enough replacement and permanent nurses to function close to prestrike capacity, which should improve its revenues.>

    And thats why it has no incentive to sit down & work with the staff nurses to get to a resolution that will end this strike. It would be a very different story if they had no replacements there.
  4. by   NRSKarenRN
    And on Friday, a lack of specially trained pediatric nurses forced OHSU not to accept transfers of children needing critical care, leaving Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital to handle those patients.
    Don't think they REALLY have enough staff or PICU wouldnt halt admissions.
  5. by   picu75rn
    This is a real concern to close the PICU. I have worked at Legacy Emanuel.
    The PICU is only 20 beds and this time of the year is frequently full. Being in the heart of downtown Portland, Emanauel has it's share of trauma along with all the other medical surgical cases that bring kids to the PICU. What this means, is that there will be a number of kids who will be treated in adult units becasue there will be no PICU beds in the immediate area. This to me is a real tragedy. Kids do not belong in adult ICUs. The staff usually is uncomfortable with the kids and the units are not set up to have parents around 24hrs. Strikes as I see it, are a no win situation. And in this case, there will be kids that are losing out. And no child deserves that.
  6. by   -jt
    That hospital thats handling the over flow of PICU pts will be needing nurses to care for them - the nurses who are on strike at OHSU are being given temp positions at other facilities who are very happy to have them

    <<One Month and Counting for OHSU Nurses
    01/18/02

    The 1500 RNs at the Oregon Health Sciences University passed their first month on the picket line on Jan. 17. UAN President Cheryl Johnson, RN, joined them on the line on Thursday. Management continues to stonewall over a respectable wage increase and make threats to nurses' free speech, despite 11 1/2 hours spent negotiating on Wednesday. For the details, go to www.fairpay4nurses.org.>>
  7. by   -jt
    OHSU hospital was trying to bribe its staff nurses with an extra $7.50/hr on top of their regular pay if they crossed their own strike line & turned their backs on their own colleagues & union. The nurses filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB & took the hospital to court for doing this. Here is the ruling......

    Extra strike pay to nurses illegal, state board says
    01/30/02

    Oregon Health & Science University broke the law by paying bonus wages to any nursing employee who returned to work during the ongoing strike, a state agency ruled Tuesday.

    In a unanimous decision, the state Employment Relations Board ordered OHSU to stop offering the extra $7.50 an hour. The university offered the extra wages to all nurses working all shifts during the first weeks of the strike but said it has since limited the incentive.

    The board deemed the violations "sufficiently serious" to consider a range of penalties. The three-member board, appointed by the governor, said it would rule on the question of penalties by the end of February. Union nurses, who have been on strike for 44 days, are demanding that OHSU reimburse the striking nurses an amount equal to the extra wages paid to nurses for crossing the picket line -- or take back the money from those who crossed the picket line.

    "The Employment Relations Board has pretty broad jurisdiction to do whatever they think is fair," said Hank Kaplan, attorney for the Oregon Nurses Association. The hospital argued that it was justified under state law to pay the higher wages because of the medical emergency and business necessity.

    The board concluded that NO medical emergency existed, in part because OHSU never sought a court order to stop the strike. The ruling concluded that the dire business situation "was at least partially self-inflicted and was not unexpected," and so did not justify the employer's actions.

    An OHSU spokesman Tuesday said the medical center paid the extra wages in the first weeks of the strike to overcome the uncertainty about staffing enough nurses to care for patients. "All shifts were declared in critical need," said Jim Newman, the spokesman. He said the medical center two weeks ago stopped the across-the-board incentive payments and began limiting the extra wages to certain hard-to-fill shifts."
    http://www.oregonlive.com/morenews/o...3391860997.xml

    I guess it never occurred to them to just settle the strike and let all their nurses come back to work. Now they will have fines and other monies to pay. Its amazing the lengths they will go to just to stop their nurses, avoid banning mandatory OT, avoid improving the working conditions and salary. And the strike goes on...
  8. by   RNed
    <An OHSU official said the medical center has enough replacement and permanent nurses to function close to prestrike capacity, which should improve its revenues.

    Patient admissions filled the medical center to 81 percent of capacity Wednesday morning, near normal for January and higher than on the same day last year. According to the medical center, 310 of the 1,500 union nurses have returned to work. >

    This represents a snapshot in time. What! Did someone think the hospital was going to quote "bad" numbers to the community!! The question is can OHSU maintain these inpatient numbers and function with this additional cost over time? Probably not !!!

    <Strikes as I see it, are a no win situation. And in this case, there will be kids that are losing out. And no child deserves that.>

    Knowing that, the hosptial and community should have inplace the ability to ship these patients to facilities prepared to care for them. This is not a new idea, rural hospitals have been transporting critically injuried and sick patients for years when the patient's care demanded more then the care available. Seattle Childrens services is not that far away by air or car, when it is my child.


    <"We would love for our nurses to come back to work. On the other hand, we need to be able to afford the contract," said Bonnie Driggers, OHSU nursing director. >

    OHSU can afford to settle this matter, it is their choice not to do so at this time. As a non-profit orgainization, they are not in a business line to make profits. As a non-profit the bottom line is to spend what extra is made on system and services to serve the community. For some reason, they believe that increasing compensation to their nurses does not serve the mission statement to the community or their non-profit status. OSHU believes that by increasing nurisng salaries, they lessen their ability to "build walls" and develope community based programs and therefore service is less for the community. At the same time, they fail to acknowledge that a lack of nurses - harms the community. They would gladly build a new outpatient department to serve the community, but deny an increase to those working in the building. OHSU is a non-profit organization, they are not in the business of making money and will never show a profit in their IRS filings.

    <Administrators at the state's busiest medical center say OHSU can't afford to pay what the nurses are asking, given the uncertain economy and the need for the nonprofit hospital to safeguard its reserves. >

    How much is in the reserve pool of money and what is it in reserve for ? Who determines how and what the reserve money is used for ? Hospitals hold massive amounts of money in reserve and receives significant interest on these sums. Who determines this is untouchable money and why do nurses accept this as untouchable? Check for the end-of-year financial statement for OSHU and find out what is in reserve and the %'s spent on structures compared to personal. I fear most of the reserves are "earmarked" for new buildings. Let the community know what you are asking for and compare it to the amount held in reserve. Don't be suprised if the interest covers the amount of increases asked for ?
  9. by   -jt
    <And on Friday, a lack of specially trained pediatric nurses forced OHSU not to accept transfers of children needing critical care, leaving Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital to handle those patients>

    Thats the way it is supposed to be!

    The responsible thing for the hospital to do & why a 10 day notice is given before the strike starts is for the hospital to make all those arrangements to transfer all pts to other facilities, stop taking admissions, stop doing elective surgeries, etc . Thats the whole incentive a strike. If they have to do all of this, the hospital usually thinks twice about being so resistent to the nurses & begins to bargain more fairly to avoid all those logistics and lost revenue & many times there is a settlement and the strike never happens or is very short & over in a matter of days.

    OHSU however, chose to keep their pts, keep business going and hire "replacements" and great PR people in an effort to slam down their own nurses. OHSU and any hospital that plays this game with pts at risk is in the wrong. OHSU should have transferred those pts long ago & stopped accepting new admissions like they are supposed to do instead of trying to run "business as usual" with a few hundred replacements for more than 1500 RNs. The hospital has no business accepting transfers while a strike is going on at its facility and if that is causing a problem in the region, then maybe it should consider the community it serves & start thinking about meeting some of the nurses issues to settle the strike.
  10. by   -jt
    Poll says public sympathy is behind striking nurses

    01/31/02

    JOE ROJAS-BURKE

    Striking nurses have more sympathy from the public than does Oregon Health & Science University, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nurses union.


    From Our Advertiser




    About 50 percent of state residents sided with the striking nurses versus 31 percent who sided with OHSU, which includes a medical school and the state's busiest hospital center. About 20 percent of the public expressed no preference, according to the poll, which was conducted for the Oregon Nurses Association by Moore Information.

    The Portland-based pollster gathered telephone responses from 500 randomly selected Oregonians and reported a 4 percent margin of error.

    Registered nurses at OHSU walked out Dec. 17, seeking higher wages, better health coverage and other workplace improvements. The two sides have not attempted to negotiate for more than two weeks, nor have they scheduled further talks. According to OHSU, 368 of the 1,500 union-represented nurses have crossed the picket line.

    In the nurses' poll, many people expressed concern about patient safety at OHSU during the strike. But the poll asked for an opinion after telling respondents that nurses at work during the strike "have been required to work over 12 hours a day, 14 days in a row."

    OHSU officials called that misleading. Spokesman Martin Munguia said staff nurses are working overtime shifts, "but we would never allow a nurse to provide patient care for 14 days in a row." He said temporary replacement nurses are working four 12-hour shifts each week.

    State inspectors, who investigated conditions during the first three days of the strike, found no safety violations and concluded that OHSU was staffing adequately.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/orego...1016371308.xml
  11. by   -jt
    * OHSU pays its nurse employees an average of $24 an hour, but during the strike it has hired many out-of-state nurses as temporary replacements who are unfamiliar with the facility, at $52 an hour, plus travel and hotel expenses.

    * During the Strike, OHSU has been operating at about 75% of normal capacity. A conservative estimate of the loss of business and the cost of replacement nurses is $22 million in the last 36 DAYS. If OHSU signed the two-year contract their nurses are seeking, the cost would have been $19 million over two years instead of $22 million in just 36 days.

    * The Oregon Legislature appropriates approximately $100 million to OHSU in tax dollars. One concern raised by nurses is that some of this taxpayer money is now helping OHSU pay for the costs of fighting the strike.

    * OHSU records show that during the strike, replacement nurses and those who have crossed the picket line have been required to work more than 12 hours a day, 14 days in a row........


    Oregonians Worried About Patient Care at OHSU

    Oregon Nurses Association releases poll results

    Portland Ore.- A large majority of all Oregonians are concerned about the safety of patients at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and Doernbecher Hospitals, who are being cared for by out-of-state replacement nurses during the strike by regular registered nurses. That is according to a statewide poll conducted last week for the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) by Moore Information of Portland. The poll results also show a majority of Oregonians support the nurses in their strike for improved patient care at OHSU/Doernbecher facilities.

    The strike, which began December 17, 2001 is now is its 44th day. The polling was done last week and asked a representative sample of registered Oregon voters their thoughts on the strike. Among the results:

    - 79% of those polled are concerned about the safety of OHSU/Doernbecher patients.
    - 60% of those polled are more sympathetic to nurses than to OHSU after learning details of the strike.
    - Oregonians are concerned about OHSU using state tax dollars to pay for the costs of the strike.

    According to Susan King, RN, Professional Services Administrator for the ONA, "OHSU is an important health care provider in the state and unless its administration makes an honest effort to end the strike, patient care will continue to suffer. This poll clearly shows that Oregonians believe that this is happening and they support the OHSU striking nurses in their effort to ensure high quality care."


    Oregon Nurses Association Poll

    Conducted by Moore Information Jan. 23-25, 2001
    1. As you may be aware, at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, 1,500 nurses have been on strike for about one month. From what you already know about this strike, are you generally more sympathetic with the nurses as employees, or with Oregon Health and Science University as the employer?
    a. nurses/employees 50%
    b. don't know 20%
    c. OHSU/employer 31%

    Now I am going to read you some statements about the strike at OHSU. After each, please tell me if you are more supportive or less supportive of the striking nurses, or if the information has no impact on your opinion.

    2. OHSU pays its nurse employees an average of $24 an hour, but during the strike it has hired many out-of-state nurses as temporary replacements who are unfamiliar with the facility, at $52 an hour, plus travel and hotel expenses.
    More Supportive- Much 35% - Somewhat 18% - Total - 53%
    No Impact- 21%
    Less Supportive- Much 10% - Somewhat 12% - Total - 22%
    Don't Know- 4%

    3. During the Strike, OHSU has been operating at about 75% of normal capacity. A conservative estimate of the loss of business and the cost of replacement nurses is $22 million in the last 36 days. If OHSU signed the two-year contract their nurses are seeking, the cost would have been $19 million over two years instead of $22 million in 36 days.
    More Supportive- Much 35% - Somewhat 20% - Total - 55%
    No Impact- 22%
    Less Supportive- Much 7% - Somewhat 7% - Total - 14%
    Don't Know- 8%

    4. The Oregon Legislature appropriates approximately $100 million to OHSU in tax dollars. One concern raised by nurses is that some of this taxpayer money is now helping OHSU pay for the costs of fighting the strike.
    More Supportive- Much 27% - Somewhat 23% - Total - 50%
    No Impact- 26%
    Less Supportive- Much 9% - Somewhat 9% - Total - 18%
    Don't Know- 6%

    5. OHSU records show that during the strike, replacement nurses and those who have crossed the picket line have been required to work over 12 hours a day, 14 days in a row. Does knowing this make you concerned about the safety of patients at OHSU, or not? ( If concerned: Is that greatly concerned or somewhat concerned?)
    a. greatly concerned 47%
    b. somewhat concerned 32% (concerned total is 79%)
    c. not concerned 18%
    d. don't know 3%


    6. I would once again like to ask you about the labor dispute between OHSU and its nurses. Are you more sympathetic to OHSU as the employer, or the nurses as the employees?
    a. nurses/employees 60%
    b. don't know 13%
    c. OHSU/ employer 27%





    Call Your Lawmakers ASAP
    Members of the Oregon legislature will meet soon in a one-day special session to rebalance the state budget. Included in their deliberations is the budget of OHSU, which could be cut by as much as 33-million dollars. Please contact your state representative, state senator, and legislative leadership. Tell them OHSU has spent nearly that much money on scab nurses in an effort to break the strike.Tell your lawmakers that OHSU management needs to stop wasting taxpayers' money on the strike and needs to settle the strike immediately by offering the nurses a reasonable contract.

    Here are the phone numbers for legislative leadership.

    Speaker of the House...................503-986-1200
    Senate President...........................503-986-1600
    House Republican Caucus.........503-986-1400
    House Democratic Caucus.........503-986-1900
    Senate Republican Caucus........503-986-1950
    Senate Democratic Caucus........503-986-1700


    To find the phone number and address for your legislative district's representative and senator, go to the following web site, where you can input your address to find the information.


    www.leg.state.or.us
    Or you can call:

    Multnomah County Elections.......503-988-3720
    Washington County Elections.....503-846-8670
    Clackamas County Elections......503-655-8510
    Yamhill County Elections..............503-434-7518
    Columbia County Elections..........503-397-7214, ext. 8444



    And call the Governor:
    John Kitzhaber 503-378-3111
  12. by   -jt
    A note from Oregon Nurses Assoc RNs who are out on strike at OHSU to the New York State Nurses Assoc RNs who are out on strike at St Catherines of Siena on Long Island........


    <<Still out on strike. For us it is day 44, I think. I am so impressed with your group. I have been reading your daily e-mails and admire your spirit. Hang in there!

    Thank you for talking about our strike in today's e-mail. I would like to provide some additional info.

    1) Not only are the scabs getting paid 2 to 3 times as much as we do, plus travel and hotel lodging. They also get food catered every shift and are allowed to make long distance calls from work. The staffing is no comparison to our normal loads. It amounts to insult added to injury.

    2) Lately the bus drivers transporting the scabs seem to take pleasure in almost ramming us as we picket or just cross the street.

    3) Besides scab nurses, the hospital is also paying 50 Pinkerton guards and housing them.

    4) ONA took OHSU hospital before the state Employee relations board over the incentive pay for nurses who crossed and we won that decision 3:0. Penalties to be assessed. Under oath the hospital had to say what we have claimed all along: the hospital HAS been in a crisis -- it's terrible without us!!!!

    5) Some nurses who crossed worked their normal schedule without any OT but the person who worked the most got paid for the equivalent of 14 16hr shifts in 2 weeks! Safe care?

    6) New mediation set for Mon, Feb 4. I hope for little. I am afraid it's mainly a PR stunt on OHSU's part. They want to be able to say they made an offer-they are getting plenty of heat from the legislature, us, & the public.

    7) OHSU gets about $114 mill $$$ from the state - a blank check. The Oregon legislature will meet Feb 8 for a special session to discuss budget cuts. At first they were going to cut 33 mill but the governor has restored 25 mill already. We are concerned that this money will be used to prolong the strike.

    IF you have an extra minute, please e-mail Gov. Kitzhaber to ask him to withhold that money until they have settled the strike. The website is oregon.gov. Thanks!

    8) We are having fun on the picket line! Yesterday, we were joined by Utah Philips, an old radical and folk singer and we sang union songs. At a rally a few weeks ago, we were entertained by a Scot playing bagpipes! Very powerful and inspiring!

    There are so many kind, good hearted people who bring hot chocolate, cider, sandwiches, etc. Plus all the other unions supporting us in so many ways. It makes me cry to feel all these connections. Our self esteem has gone way up! No more abuse!

    We are recovering from this painful relationship. Our institution is like an alcoholic who cannot see he/she has a problem. It's not the money that matters the most(even though we are woefully underpayed-19% less than area hospitals), it's the lack of respect and the dreadful working conditions!

    Anyway, I could go on forever. It's great to get to know my coworkers, nurses from other depts. and across the country!
    We salute you NY Rns! This is a revolution for better patient care, working conditions, a better future! Let's toast to that.

    In struggle,
    JL
    OHSU Nurse, Portland, OR
  13. by   -jt
    <<7) OHSU gets about $114 mill $$$ from the state - a blank check. The Oregon legislature will meet Feb 8 for a special session to discuss budget cuts. At first they were going to cut 33 mill but the governor has restored 25 mill already. We are concerned that this money will be used to prolong the strike.
    IF you have an extra minute, please e-mail Gov. Kitzhaber to ask him to withhold that money until they have settled the strike.
    The website is oregon.gov. >>

    Money talks. The hospital must have feared that upcoming Feb 8th meeting. Theyd have to answer for why it spent (& wasted) $22 million in 36 DAYS but still expects the government to hand it $100 million more to help it stay in business. OHSU probably decided it didnt want to deal with that question or risk losing any state funds, sooooo, coincidentally, just before this Feb 8th legislative meeting to discuss cutting the amount given to the hospital.........

    <<"A Tentative Agreement has been reached with OHSU Management!!

    Contract Vote Scheduled for Sunday, February 10th

    Solidarity Meeting Thursday Night, 6-9pm, location TBA

    Unity Rally To be Held Saturday, February 9th, AURN Union Hall

    ONA/AURN-OHSU
    Contract Settlement Overview

    After nearly 33 hours of mediation, OHSU Management and the RNs bargaining team came to a tentative agreement which we will take to a vote on Sunday
    February 10, 2002.

    The recommended settlement includes:


    Wages: *7% wage increase in Year 1
    *7% wage increase in Year 2 and
    *6.5% baseline increase in Year 3 (which may be increased based on comparison of wages at major area hospitals). In addition, differentials may increase in
    Year 3 based on that comparison

    Benefits: Additional $30 employer contribution in each year of the
    contract. Employer commits to pursue a self-insurance PPO to control costs, implemented by 2004. In Year 3 of contract, the contract may be reopened on the health insurance benefit if employer fails to present a PPO plan. The right to strike over this issue is guaranteed.

    In the back to work agreement: the employer
    agrees to pick up costs of healthcare for February and March, and agrees to pay for Life Insurance and Disability to the extent the insurance carrier allows. These benefits would be covered in March.

    Education: Employer agrees to $120,000 per year in graduate education tuition assistance for the entire unit.

    Article 11: Guarantees appropriate union access to workplace. No censorship on union email.

    Relations: *Agreement on strengthening the AURN-Management Cooperative Committee
    * Pursuit of Magnet Hospital Status (to ensure improved conditions and invlovement in staff RNs in the decision making that affects them and their practice)

    Return: If approved at vote on Sunday February 10, 2002, Nurses would return to work beginning Wednesday February 13 0600.">>>>
    Last edit by -jt on Feb 6, '02
  14. by   -jt
    good luck with your vote!
    Last edit by -jt on Feb 6, '02

close