PENDLETON — Forty health care technical workers at CHI St. Anthony Hospital, Pendleton, have filed for union recognition with the National Labor Relations Board.
The Oregon Nurses Association in a press release Thursday, July 7, announced it is representing the group of imaging, pharmacy, laboratory and sleep lab technicians and respiratory therapists. The association represents registered nurses working at CHI St. Anthony.
The technical workers identified a range of issues as their primary reasons for organizing, including ensuring safe staffing, providing high quality care and seeking equitable wages.
“Imaging technicians — a highly skilled group of technologists who use specialized equipment to create internal images used by doctors to diagnose and treat patients — have wages that are well behind their colleagues at other hospital systems,” according to the press release.
Katie Heath, an imaging tech at St. Anthony and one of the staff members supporting the union effort, said in the press release the hospital’s is not paying her nor her coworkers what it should.
“Imaging techs’ wages are way behind industry standard, have not kept up with the cost of living and are not reflective of our experience,” she said. “Unionizing will give us the opportunity to address these kinds of wage discrepancies and will help us recruit and retain the best and most qualified staff. Being in a union means we will have a seat at the table to help raise standards for our community.”
Respiratory techs at St. Anthony are regularly denied time off, have been working with a skeleton crew and forced into inconsistent schedules to cover for short staffing, according to the ONA. Many are feeling burnt out and have considered leaving the hospital for other work.
“We want respect, we want safer staffing and we want to have a voice on issues that impact our patients, our communities and our careers,” said Derek Skufca, a respiratory therapist at St. Anthony and a union supporter. “All of us know that joining a union will empower us to achieve those goals.”
The NLRB is scheduled to hold a hearing in mid-July to determine a union election date.
St. Anthony CEO Harry Geller said the hospital is urging technicians to vote “no.”
“They do a terrific job of serving our patients,” he said. “We’ll follow all National Labor Relations Board guidelines. We respect the rights and opinions of all staff. We hope to move forward in a positive manner and engage in productive communication with them.”
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