Providence workers seek union representation

Providence Women's Clinic and Providence Home Health and Hospice caregivers in Oregon seek to vote on union representation. 

The caregivers, who work in the Portland, North Coast, Yamhill County and the Columbia River Gorge areas, are asking the National Labor Relations Board to vote on whether to join the Oregon Nurses Association. 

These "health professionals are committed to standing together to ensure front-line providers have a strong voice within Providence so they can continue to improve care, increase access and lower costs for patients and their communities," the union said in a Feb. 28 news release shared with Becker's.

The NLRB provides various paths to forming a union. According to the labor board's website, the board will conduct an election if at least 30 percent of workers sign cards or a petition indicating their support for unionization. Workers would then vote on whether to unionize. Employers may also voluntarily recognize a union based on signed union-authorization cards or other evidence. The Oregon providers moved to file for union representation elections on Feb. 23.

More than 60 physicians, nurses and midwives at Providence Women's Clinic along with 130 physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers and counselors at Providence Home Health and Providence Hospice would be represented by the Oregon Nurses Association if caregivers vote to unionize, according to the ONA.

Providence Medical Group, Providence Home Health and Providence Hospice, all part of Renton, Wash.-based Providence, "respect the rights of caregivers to explore representation. We encourage people to learn as much as possible about joining a union before voting. To that end, we will provide open and transparent conversations, support and education so that they can make an informed decision," Providence said in a statement shared with Becker's.

"Consistent with our existing labor principles, we will follow the NLRB's process of secret ballot elections," the health system added. "Whatever outcomes result — we will respect the decisions, which are determined by the majority of eligible caregivers who vote."

An ONA spokesperson said the union expects each group of providers will have an NLRB hearing within the next month, followed by union elections.

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