Oregon Nurses Assn: Advanced Practice Providers of OHSU Move to Unionize


News Release from Oregon Nurses Assn.
January 5th, 2024
Downloadable file: APPs at OHSU celebrate

Downloadable file: APPs at OHSU deliver their declaration

Nurse practitioners, physician associates, nurse midwives cite degrading working conditions, increased pressure to generate revenue as reasons for taking action

(Portland, Ore.) – Today, more than 600 advanced practice providers (APP) from across the OHSU system announced their intent to join a union and delivered their declaration to hospital administration demanding to be recognized. Members of the group work at OHSU locations across the state including Portland, Eugene, The Dalles and Klamath Falls and include nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician associates serving as faculty and caring for patients in areas such as family practice, cardiology and oncology. They intend to join the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) which already represents more than 3000 RNs in the OHSU system.

“My colleagues and I care for patients across the OHSU system, while our work may vary from one department to the next, we all feel a lack of respect from administration. There is no focus on retention. We are pushed to our limit and it’s not sustainable,” said Heather Reed, a nurse practitioner in family medicine. “For me, the time pressure is extreme and relentless. Rarely do I complete all my charts or do paperwork during the day. After a hard day’s work, I often go home with more to do than I did at the start. I love being a nurse practitioner. I love working with patients and part of that is assuring patients have the best care and best access. Right now, that’s compromised.”

The organizing effort at OHSU is the most recent, in a continuous wave of healthcare workers from across the state, representing multiple health systems seeking to unionize. APPs at OHSU are asking for a compensation system that reflects the complexity and diversity of their positions, the agency to discuss productivity goals and expectations with management, recognition for their roles in improving patient care and access to care, and the time and financial support to pursue educational and faculty advancement opportunities.

“I am very concerned about how healthcare systems are shifting priorities toward profits. It’s unethical and erodes trust from patients and frontline providers alike. PAs and NPs at OHSU are widely invisible to the institution despite being foundational for every aspect of healthcare and healthcare system functionality. We try very hard to maintain a high standard for ourselves to provide not only the best patient care we can, but the best access to care for the community. Regrettably, we are rewarded with increased workload and responsibility and lower pay which inevitably leads to APPs leaving. We owe it to ourselves and our community to do all we can to push for change,” said Carmen Henderson, a physician associate in cardiology. “We must unionize so we have a seat at the table. As frontline health professionals, we should have a say in how we operate and deliver care. By taking this step now, we can improve the work/life balance for all APPs at OHSU and in turn, stem the tide of providers leaving for less demanding and better-paying positions, or leaving healthcare altogether.”

As public employees, the union recognition process can happen voluntarily if OHSU agrees or through a card check (union authorization cards) that is handled by Oregon’s Employment Relations Board (ERB).

In October 2023, ONA-represented nurses at OHSU voted to approve a new contract after ten months of negotiations. Nurses secured significant wage increases, guaranteed minimum staffing standards, improved workplace safety protections, the right to bargain the impacts of a merger with Legacy Health system and full retro pay.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union that represents more than 17,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 3000 frontline nurses at OHSU. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

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