Employees petition no confidence in St. Charles payroll practices

Members of the Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals at Bend, Ore.-based St. Charles Health System are indicating a lack of confidence in the health system's accounting and payroll practices, via a petition drive.

The unions represent about 1,200 front-line nurses working at St. Charles facilities in Central Oregon, according to an Aug. 24 news release shared with Becker's. St. Charles is a four-hospital health system with about 4,300 employees total.

Union members launched a petition drive after St. Charles asked 2,358 employees to pay back more than $2 million it says they received in overpayments.

The health system is seeking the money following a December ransomware attack on human resources management company Ultimate Kronos Group. The attack affected the software platform, which health systems and other companies use for scheduling, timekeeping, payroll and human resources. 

Union members are vowing they will not agree to any repayment plan proposed by the health system until an independent third-party audit of the pay issues has been performed.

Their petition, in part, indicates they "no longer have confidence in [their] employer's accounting and payroll practices due to the litany of errors claimed to have been made within the past year."

The petition continues: "We will not agree on any repayment plans for alleged overpayment by St. Charles unless and until a third-party independent audit has been conducted which proves overpayments occurred, including the specific dates and amounts of the overpayment(s) in question. Should St. Charles seek recoupment of alleged overpayment through payroll deduction without express permission, we will seek any and all remedies, legal and otherwise."

Becker's reached out to St. Charles for comment Aug. 25.

In a previous statement, the health system said: "While we recognize this [seeking money] is an inconvenience for our employees, we've communicated from the beginning that this is a step we'd eventually need to take. We have made every effort to keep our employees apprised of the situation."

St. Charles has been working to recover from financial strains. The health system announced in May it would lay off 105 caregivers and eliminate 76 vacant positions. In July, St. Charles also announced the elimination of two executive leadership positions.  

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