BEND, OR -- Nurses at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend have been working with an expired union contract since the end of June. Now both sides have agreed to bring in a federal mediator to help find common ground.
Staffing for adequate patient care is the main issue for the 720 nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association. John Nangle is an RN and the ONA Bend Facility Bargaining Unit Chair. “We have proposed several solutions to these problems to St. Charles and they’ve largely been rejected. The better the nurse staffing, the safer the patients and the better the outcome,” he tells KBND. “Nurse staffing in many units is inadequate. The nurses are routinely working short-handed. Nurses are routinely not being provided meal and rest breaks because there’s not a nurse to give them the breaks.” Nangle says the union also wants written into a new contract that nurses should be able to speak up about inadequate staffing without fear of retaliation.
St. Charles officials declined to be interviewed on the topic, but issued a statement saying in part, “St. Charles remains focused on reaching an agreement on a contract that is competitive across the industry and provides a work environment that is consistent with our vision, mission and values.”
A mediator has not yet been appointed. The existing labor agreement will be in effect throughout the negotiations. The contract issue addresses only nurses at the Bend hospital.