A group of about 900 PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center service and laboratory employees have voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, joining about 2,000 other hospital employees already represented by the union.
The employees voted 319-110 to be represented by AFT. The 904 people in the newly represented group 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 other jobs.
Earlier this year, licensed technical professionals at the hospital voted to form the 313-member PeaceHealth Southwest Caregivers United union under the umbrella of the AFT and its Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals affiliate. PeaceHealth Southwest nurses are members of the Washington State Nurses Association, which is also under the AFT umbrella.
“I’m thrilled to welcome the service and maintenance workers at PeaceHealth Southwest into the AFT family,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a news release. “The union is a vehicle for these workers to help their patients and themselves — to ensure the patients they serve receive the care they need, and to fight for the wages and fair treatment on the job that every worker at PeaceHealth deserves.”
Late last month, 644 of 904 eligible employees voted whether to be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 49, AFT 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.
The runoff election between AFT and SEIU took place late last week. The vote will become official once certified by the National Labor Relations Board, which could take at least seven days, according to PeaceHealth.
“Once the election is certified, consistent with our Core Values and labor laws, we will honor our caregivers’ voice and continue our good faith bargaining relationship with the union,” said Wade Hunt, PeaceHealth Southwest interim CEO, in a letter to employees.