OHSU Urges Oregon Nurses Association to Mediate and Allow Nurses to Vote

12/12/01    Portland, Ore.

OHSU extends deadline on last, best contract offer two more days

Oregon Health & Science University is urging the Oregon Nurses Association (an AFL-CIO affiliate) to allow nurses to vote before the university is forced to commit significant sums of money for replacement nurses in the advent of a strike.

As of 1:30 p.m. today, ONA says it won¹t meet earlier than Friday, and will not allow voting until Saturday, Dec. 15 ­ one day after OHSU is obligated to make payment to the contract agency.

OHSU¹s offer, which is more generous than any other nurses¹ contract in the metro area, was originally due to expire at 5 p.m. today. OHSU has been able to delay the payment deadline until 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, in the hope that its nurses will be allowed to vote by that time.

"Saturday is too late," said Bonnie Driggers, R.N., M.S., M.P.A., interim associate hospital director for patient care services and one of the OHSU negotiators. "We are disappointed and at a loss to understand the ONA¹s strategy."

Scheduling a vote on Saturday is concerning because:

  • OHSU will have spent significant funds to the agency ­ funds needed to pay OHSU nurses the current best offer.
       
  • Saturday is an inconvenient time for nurses to vote because they work every other weekend.

OHSU¹s last, best offer increases wages by 12 percent over the two-year contract, placing their wages above every other nurse contract in the community. (according to public record ONA documentation). The current contract increases the wage for starting nurses at OHSU. It also creates a new wage level for long-term nurses. Nurses also will receive a $200 to $300 signing bonus, depending part time/full time status when the contract is signed.

Health insurance
OHSU is offering $445 a month for flexible benefit insurance choices for full-time or near full-time employees. This is about $100 more a month than other community health systems offer.

While many Portland businesses offer only one or two health insurance plans, OHSU offers five different plans. This benefit is the product of the OHSU employee Benefits Council, a representative group comprising ONA ,AFSCME, faculty and managers.

There are approximately 11,000 OHSU employees receiving these benefits. There are 1,500 nurses, 1,071 of whom use the OHSU insurance program. Of those, 33 have selected the most expensive employee/family/spouse coverage with premiums that underwent a significant increase this year. Under OHSU¹s current offer, all nurses, however, will be offered the opportunity to have another open enrollment to assess their insurance selections.

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