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2023: A Year in Review

2023 was one of the most significant years in our union’s 50 year history, and we expect that the groundbreaking changes we saw this year will continue into 2024. This year began with us formally announcing what we already knew to be true: that fighting for safe staffing was the future of both our organization and of healthcare justice. We took on an all-organization staffing campaign, which meant finding ways of linking up our different bargaining units in the shared fight for safe staffing. We know that all of our campaigns, from contract battles to shop floor fights, are, at their core, staffing campaigns. That unified plan gave us shared language to invoke solidarity. We began this by confronting the holiday staffing crisis in January with a mass picket at Sunnyside Medical Center, which set the tone for the rest of the year.

That staffing campaign was brought into fundamentally new territory with Oregon House Bill 2697, a piece of legislation we helped pass, in coalition with our healthcare union partners like the Oregon Nurses Association, SEIU 49, and others. This bill established staffing ratios, extended the staffing committee model, and set basic staffing standards for Oregon hospitals. Our members went into negotiations with politicians and the hospitals, building a legislative plan to take the bill from genesis all the way to passage. This meant mobilizing stories from across our union, publicizing it through our communications and media strategies, and testifying on a mass scale. This bill is not only the most advanced piece of state-level healthcare staffing legislation in the country. But, it also helped support our fellow union siblings by establishing a model for the work of AFT’s “Code Red'' staffing campaign (a national union-wide strategy to address the staffing crisis), where we are a leader and have set the gold standard for legislative solutions. In doing so, we are also using an AFT grant to address pipeline issues by increasing interest in unionized healthcare professions.

Our biggest contract campaign was the battle we fought in all of our four PeaceHealth units, which led to a historic five-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike. These units included Techs, Lab Pros, and Service and Maintenance workers who have been historically underpaid. So, we knew we needed unprecedented wage raises to make us competitive and to make PeaceHealth a health system that could attract and retain qualified staff. We organized right from the shop-floor, focusing on member-to-member meetings and conversations, an unmatched level of communication and digital tactic implementation, and made sure our member leaders drove the entire process. This led to landmark wage raises upon ratification, which reached an astounding 55% for some members. This has become the new standard for our organization and their example will help lead our contract fights in 2024 and 2025. 

We had other fights all across our union, as well. At St. Charles, we confronted management’s unequal application of mental health and PTO benefits, building a campaign to demand equal treatment that included public petitions, a newspaper ad, and taking our demands to management. At Kaiser, we had dozens of contract enforcement wins and created shop floor campaigns, such as the Pro unit’s fight for their residual Education Funds and necessary market adjustment organizing initiatives. We also participated in the fights of other unions and organizations, from supporting strikes by ONA, SEIU, and UFCW, to supporting community efforts.

Growth was also a priority this year. We are a rapidly growing union, outpacing much of the rest of the labor movement, both in Oregon and across the country. We won a strong first contract for the nearly 80 Techs at Mid-Columbia Medical Center, which was a hard fight that incorporated the entire community to be successful. More recently, we won a union election at Legacy Meridian Park, where 150 Techs decided to join OFNHP and fight for their voice. We will continue externally organizing in 2024 and with several large new units in sight. 

More than anything, 2023 was a year when we came together as one union and fought to improve the entire healthcare system. This is what we will continue to do in 2024, building our infrastructure and vision for a new kind of union. We have the capacity to do this because we are both member-led and have an engaged membership, and that will never change.

Let’s make 2024 as dynamic as 2023 was. I’m so proud to serve as our union President and to fight alongside each and everyone one of you. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Jonathon Baker

OFNHP President


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