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What is the Central Oregon Providers Network union?

We are a group of providers at St. Charles Medical Group that are joining forces to advocate for our patients, our professions, and our community through the rights afforded to us by the National Labor Relations Act. By joining together as a group, we are more powerful than acting individually. As a union, we will make decisions as a group, negotiate with administration over issues that are important to us, and build power by having each others' backs.


Why are providers at St. Charles forming a union?

As providers, we are charged with providing quality patient care to members of our community. We take a lot of pride in our work and want to ensure the best patient care experience possible. 

In order to best advocate for our patients, we need to be able to have a meaningful voice at the table with the administration where our voice, input, and values are taken seriously. Issues like: safe staffing, equity in the workplace, recruiting and retaining quality providers, and the overall future direction of the services covered by St. Charles are just some of the reasons we are forming a union. 

By joining together as a union, we will gain the right to sit down at the table and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the St. Charles administration. We are committed to having discussions that are in the best interests of patient care and pushing the administration to make fiscally responsible decisions that will help to ensure our healthcare mission is fulfilled to its greatest potential.


Why now?

For too long we have seen St Charles be managed in a way that does not align with our values. The Central Oregon Providers Network believes that providers should be at the table having a voice in patient care. We have been trying to work with administration over the years, just to have our concerns ignored. Coming out of the pandemic, we have decided that the time is now to stand together to advocate for our patients. 


What does it mean that COPN filed for an election and who is NLRB?

NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, is the government agency intended to “give workers a greater voice in their workplace.” The NLRB will be responsible for handling the election proceedings. Its efforts were initiated in this case because the Central Oregon Providers Network filed for union representation.


When we get to an election, is it handled by NLRB?

Yes, the supervision and direction of the election will be overseen by a board agent. We are not sure yet whether the election will be conducted by mail, or in person, but we do know that NLRB will oversee this election. This is a government-run election.


What will the election look like?

We are waiting to see if we will be having the election in person or if it will be a mail ballot. If it is a mail ballot, the NLRB will send ballots to our home addresses, which will be due back by a determined date. If it is a mail ballot, it is important that we have your correct address so the NLRB can send you a ballot. If the election is in person, it will be seen over by a NLRB agent.


How long will the election process take?

We hope that that this process should be relatively quick, but anticipate that St Charles will dispute anything and everything to drag this process out. It’s what they have done in the past and what we fully expect they will do now. They want us to get discouraged and loose our support.


Am I eligible for the vote?

We believe all Doctors, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Social Workers, Perfusionists, Registered Nurses, Counselors, Therapists, and Certified Nurse-Midwives in the medical group should have a vote!


What to expect in the coming months?

As we move forward with our next steps, we expect administration will begin to react adversely. They will start holding meetings where we can “air our grievances.” As they have done repeatedly for the past decade, they will attempt to placate us with empty promises to fix things and repair trust.  We also expect them to denigrate our efforts by implying we will somehow adversely harm patient care by asserting ourselves in this process - we know this is not true. Phone calls, meetings, promises or vague threats do not work. We are not the ones that have conducted layoffs over the years, mismanaged the system, or created this financial crisis. We always have the patients at the center of what we do. We can no longer let administrators have sole control over our work - the stakes are too high.  It is important that we remain united and remember our goals.


Why does the administration oppose unions?

Generally, it comes down to power. Currently, without a union, the administration can change policies at any time with little or no notice, we are at-will, and they have no obligation to sit down and hear our concerns. They can cut services, lay off employees, and increase our workloads without so much as a discussion. With a union, we will have a legal right to be involved in discussions about the decisions that affect our working conditions and the impacts of these decisions.


Know your rights!

Remember, we are federally protected in our right to form our union. Check out our Know Our Rights tab