Bend hospital worker strike ends

By Emily Cureton Cook (OPB)
March 15, 2021 4:56 p.m.
Picket signs with messages like "Support St. Charles Respiratory Therapy" lie on the grass outside St. Charles Bend Medical Center, near a hospital sign that reads "Urgent Care."

Picket signs lie on the grass outside St. Charles Bend Medical Center on March 4, 2021. After an 11-day walk-out, hospital employees who had been protesting wages and workplace conditions returned to work Monday, March 15.

Emily Cureton Cook

A union of hospital workers in Bend returned to work Monday, 11 days after walking off their jobs to protest wages and working conditions at St. Charles Medical Center. The strike ends as the union of medical technicians, technologists and therapists continues to negotiate a first contract with the hospital.


“The agreement [to end the strike] came together as both parties believe patient care is and should be the top priority,” stated a joint press release issued by the hospital and the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017.


During the strike, St. Charles administrators repeatedly said the Bend hospital was running normally, while providers inside the hospital raised red flags about delays to patient care as temporary technicians filled in for striking workers.

Union and hospital officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about how they came to terms after months of contention.

“The two parties will bargain over several days to secure a contract by March 31,” according to the joint press release.

Some 156 medical technical workers at the Bend hospital have not secured a first contract since voting to form a union in 2019. Many have said they want multi-year wage formulas and cost of living adjustments similar to what is guaranteed through a separate union contract for nurses.

The strike was the first organized work stoppage at the Bend hospital since 1980. It was preceded by other labor disputes, as St. Charles workers in recent years have alleged violations of wage and hour laws, with some securing large legal settlements.

This is a developing story and may be updated.


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