Physicians accuse Legacy Health of unilaterally reducing shifts

The Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association, a physician and advanced practice provider union represented by the American Federation of Teachers and staffed by the Oregon Nurses Association, is accusing Portland, Ore.-based Legacy Health of reducing hours worked by hospitalists without sufficient bargaining. 

In a complaint filed April 3 with the National Labor Relations Board, the union alleges Legacy has refused to provide requested information relevant to the production of union proposals and relevant to the union's response to the health system's proposals. The union also alleges that Legacy has unilaterally implemented staffing changes over the union's objections and without bargaining to impasse. 

The complaint follows a Feb. 21 letter in which union-represented hospitalists ask Legacy administrators not to enact changes to their shift models, staffing, hours, pay, and service lines until the terms have been agreed upon through bargaining.

Now, union leaders have filed a complaint with the NLRB, saying that Legacy has done just that. According to the union, the enacted changes include decreasing shift hours, decreasing number of shifts, increasing patient care responsibilities and patient volumes without a corresponding boost in staffing, and changing administrative pay and responsibilities.

Legacy shared the following statement with Becker's: "Legacy regularly adjusts scheduling in response to health care needs across our organization. We are always focused on staffing appropriately to provide the best possible patient care, and we will continue to work constructively with the union on this matter." 

The union represents hospitalists at six Legacy hospitals in Oregon and Washington: Good Samaritan Medical Center and Emanuel Medical Center, both in Portland, Ore., Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, Ore., Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham, Ore., and Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash. Last November, about 200 hospitalists at the hospitals voted to unionize.

Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University is also working on finalizing a merger agreement with Legacy. In August, the entities announced they had signed a nonbinding letter of intent with plans to create a 10-hospital system of more than 32,000 employees. The combined system would be the largest Portland metro area employer.

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