A group of about 900 PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center service and laboratory employees working at various Vancouver locations have voted to be represented by a union. Which union will represent the group, however, has yet to be determined.
Late last month, 644 of 904 eligible employees voted whether to be represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, American Federation of Teachers/Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (AFT/OFNHP) Local 5017 or to continue without union representation.
The 644 votes were divided as follows: 297 voted yes for AFT, 176 voted yes for SEIU and 171 voted for neither, according to PeaceHealth. The secret-ballot vote was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
A runoff election, where the employees will choose between AFT and SEIU, is scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15.
The 904 employees voting for union representation include full- and part-time employees, as well as per diem employees, who work at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, including its Mill Plain specialty clinic, Physicians Pavilion, Memorial Urgent Care, Family Medicine, Hospice Southwest, Ray Hickey Hospice House, and the Salmon Creek specialty and pain management clinic.
The employees include those working as cooks, technicians, lab assistants, medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, unit secretaries and home health aides, among others.
“We greatly appreciate the respectful manner in which our caregivers considered this issue and one another’s point of view,” said Wade Hunt, PeaceHealth Southwest interim chief executive, in a notice sent to employees after the first vote. “The respectful nature of the discussions leading up to the vote were a credit to our people and to the special culture we have created at PeaceHealth.”