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Historic Partnership Reached Between OHSU and ONA

Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) and the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) have reached an historic agreement that includes OHSU’s support and promotion of Professional Association membership in ONA among nurse practitioners, CNS’s, midwives and CRNAs who are not currently covered by the ONA/OHSU collective bargaining agreement. This promotion includes OHSU’s unprecedented commitment to reimburse membership dues to any nurse in these groups desiring to be a Professional Association member of ONA. This agreement delivers on a long-standing mutual commitment by both the University and the Association to the fundamental goal of advancement of the professional practice of nurses both within the University System and in the greater Oregon community. It could not have come at a more opportune time when both the University and the Association, which includes the Nurse Practitioners of Oregon (NPO), are anticipating an expansion of professional roles for NPs and other nurses as the Affordable Care Act’s comprehensive healthcare reform initiatives are implemented throughout Oregon. 

This commitment on the part of OHSU is also an acknowledgment of the positive role that ONA and NPO play in the support of legislative activities in Oregon needed to enhance, and at times maintain, our progressive and independent NP practice in our state. It also affords a unique opportunity for NPO and OHSU to highlight and promote NPO’s exceptional educational and networking role for NPs in the form of its annual educational state-wide NPO Conference.

The OHSU/ONA Agreement, finalized in June, includes additional partnership commitments to enhance and support the development of a professional working relationship between the organizations. The relationship between these two organizations is multifaceted and complex. It exists within a context of ONA’s labor organization status, representing the labor and professional interests of its Medical Center and Clinic bargaining unit nurses. It also is within ONA’s non-labor Professional Association relationship related to other common organizational initiatives and values, such as a shared focus on the development of nursing education. Both organizations have collaborated in the past to assure adequate nurse education funding for OHSU.

Our joint history and continually evolving relationship—at times which admittedly has been contentious—makes this partnership agreement all the more significant. It not only promotes ONA professional (non-collective bargaining) membership, but also resolves longstanding divisive issues including a clear definition of which nurses are considered to be in the bargaining unit and which are not under the existing ONA/OHSU collective bargaining agreement. It goes on to establish a framework for all nurses to become represented under a separate academic ONA bargaining unit, if and when they choose to take this step. In the meantime OHSU and ONA have both committed that they will not disrupt or deny these nurses their right to make a decision regarding representation free from coercion, intimidation, promises and threats. Although, undoubtedly there will be disagreements and contentious issues in the future, the partnership agreement will remain a positive anchor that promises to serve nursing well.

Here are some additional key provisions of the agreement:

  • OHSU agrees to provide ONA with an updated list of employed RNs who are outside of the bargaining unit, including job descriptions and status on a periodic ongoing basis.
  • ONA and OHSU agree that NPs currently in the ONA bargaining unit will remain in the unit.
  • ONA and OHSU agree that any NP who currently or in the future works in a unit with, and essentially performs the same job duties as, any of the current NPs in the ONA bargaining unit, may elect voluntarily to become a member of the existing ONA-OHSU bargaining unit.
  • OHSU agrees to designate future job postings for registered nurses into one of the following groups:
    • In the ONA bargaining unit
    • In one of two groups: (1) NPs, CNSs and midwives; and (2) CRNAs
    • Nurses excluded from the bargaining unit due to their academic status
    • Nurses excluded from the bargaining unit due to their status as a supervisor or confidential employee

The agreement will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2017, but will automatically be renewed unless either party gives notice of their intent for it to end. The complete agreement is posted on the OHSU/AURN webpage on the ONA website here

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