Oregon hospital support staff win union by 1 vote

Support staff at Providence Portland (Ore.) Medical Center have decided by one vote to unionize, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Healthcare workers voted in December against joining the Service Employees International Union Local 49. But some of the more than 700 ballots cast were challenged, and an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board determined two of those challenged ballots should be counted, according to Jean Powell Marks, senior communications manager at Providence Portland.

The final vote was 384-383 in favor of unionization.

"Providence Portland Medical Center healthcare employees voted to have a stronger voice on the job through organizing with SEIU Local 49," union president Meg Niemi told the Journal.

"We've talked to workers there for years who wanted to be stronger advocates for the quality of care and services and to stop the erosion of their wages and benefits and have the ability to collectively bargain. Over the course of the last year, workers came together in a significant way to demonstrate they wanted to organize and have a union."

A statement from Ms. Marks said Providence Portland is now "considering our next steps."

The hospital could still appeal the administrative judge's recommendation to the NLRB regional director in Seattle. The hospital and/or SEIU Local 49 could also have the NLRB regional director's decision reviewed by the board's national office.

"Throughout this process, we have said we fully support that every properly cast ballot must be counted if they are within the defined scope for the election. We made that pledge to our caregivers, and we remain committed to it," said Ms. Marks.


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