Here's a newspaper article about the OHSU strike; naturally it doesn't show nearly enough of the whole picture, but does give some tidbits worth chewing:
[ Fair Use: For Educational / Research / Discussion Purposes Only ]
12/22/01, by Wendy Y. Lawton
OHSU has paid $684,000 for nurses
In October, Oregon Health & Science University hired a San Francisco medical staffing firm to supply replacements for any striking nurses, paying the company $54 an hour for each of the 250 nurses working in university hospitals and clinics. From Our Advertiser
According to public records obtained by The Oregonian, OHSU is also footing travel and hotel bills for replacement nurses and license fees for workers arriving from at least 12 other states. OHSU also paid a $212,500 deposit for these services after signing on with Heathcare Consulting and Staffing Services.
The strike stretches into its sixth day today at Oregon's busiest medical center, with no progress between management and the union in their dispute over pay and other issues. About 1,000 registered nurses stopped work Monday.
By Friday, university officials say they've spent $684,000 on replacement nurses.
Over the next month, the university said, the agency has 750 nurses committed to work.
After Healthcare Consulting takes its share, replacements make $35 per hour. OHSU nurses -- who in part walked out over wages -- make about $18 to $28 per hour.
"We value the work of all our employees and would like to pay them more," the university said in a statement, "but we have to make sound business decisions based on the reality of our income."
Theresa Johnson, a critical care nurse walking the picket line Friday, said the high pay for fill-in nurses is an insult.
"If OHSU is paying this much money to them, why don't they pay that much to us?" Johnson said. "It just shows that management doesn't respect us."
OHSU officials say they can't afford the union's last request of about a 20 percent raise over 24 months. OHSU is offering to increase wages about 14 percent over 27 months. Talks with a state mediator are expected to resume next week.
In the meantime, the university is operating with replacements and other nurses. According to OHSU, 125 staff nurses crossed picket lines this week, and 80 to 100 temporary nurses who typically work at OHSU also are working. OHSU said striking nurses have been replaced with nursing school faculty, nurse managers, clinical specialists and nurse practioners.
At the sprawling 263-acre Southwest Portland campus, a Healthcare Consulting strike team has set up a temporary office to manage its workers. Replacements arrive twice a day at OHSU on private buses with blacked-out windows. University officials said the fill-in nurses hail from across Oregon, Washington and Idaho and as far away as New York and Louisiana.
The company they work for keeps a low profile.
Healthcare Consulting has no Web site and no listed telephone number. Records filed with the California secretary of state show the business was incorporated in 1999, listing Gary Fanger as the registered agent.
Public records show that Fanger is also the chief executive of Travel Nurse International Inc.
Also headquartered in San Francisco, Travel Nurse International supplies registered nurses to hospitals around the world. Fanger didn't return phone calls Friday. But the firm's Web site advertises assignments lasting one to 13 weeks with signing bonuses, paid travel, health insurance and "guaranteed highest wages."
According to newspaper reports, Travel Nurse hired some replacement nurses last year during the Stanford University strike in California.
State and national nurses union officials say about a half dozen temporary agencies in the country specialize in sending nurses to striking hospitals. Companies recruit nurses through Internet ads and telephone and e-mail solicitations. Because of controversy, most shy away from attention.
"They like to fly under the radar screen," said Suzanne Martin, spokeswoman for United American Nurses, the nation's largest nurses labor union.
Here are some provisions of the contract with Healthcare Consulting, signed by OHSU Chief Financial Officer Aaron Crane on Oct. 29:
Healthcare Consulting will be the "exclusive contractor" to staff the OHSU strike, although existing staff, temporary staff and "traveling" nurses can be used.
Replacement nurses must be guaranteed four 12-hour shifts per week.
OHSU will be billed $81 per hour for nurse overtime and holidays such as Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Replacement nurses in charge of units make an extra $10 per hour. Nurses will bill 50 percent of their $35 hourly rate while on call.
Ken Fitzsimon, administrator for labor relations with the Oregon Nurses Association, questioned the quality of temporary workers with no knowledge of hospital procedures and no loyalty to the institution.
"I'm sure some of these nurses are competent," Fitzsimon said, "but I'm sure others are warm bodies with a license."
Dr. Jerris Hedges, OHSU's chief of emergency services, said the nurses he's working with are dedicated, well-trained and quick to adapt. "They know what it's like to move around," Hedges said. "So they put good, solid nursing care to work right away."
Under Oregon law, nurses must have a state license. Applicants must prove they've graduated from an approved nursing program, passed a national exam and worked at least 960 hours in the last five years. The Oregon State Board of Nursing also uses a law enforcement database to weed out convicted murders, rapists or sexual abusers.
Board spokeswoman Barbara Holtry said investigators also check out disciplinary infractions from other states to ensure safe care before licenses are issued -- including any licenses issued to replacement nurses.