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Unity Center Nurses File for Union Representation

PORTLAND, Ore. - In a historic announcement, more than 170 nurses at Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Portland declared their intent to unionize and join the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). The nurses filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on May 13, 2019 calling for a vote.

“The best way to advocate for our patients and our community is to have a real voice in decision making so we can ensure every patient receives the high-quality care they deserve,” said Amer Filipovic, a charge nurse at Unity Center. “Nurses are standing up to help fulfill Unity’s promise of delivering the right care at the right time to everyone in need.”

Unity Center is a 24-hour psychiatric emergency room and behavioral health center in Northeast Portland run by Legacy Health. Nurses at Unity Center have been working to organize with the Oregon Nurses Association in order to improve community health care, create a safe environment for patients and staff, gain a real voice in decision making, and ensure fair representation for workers and compassionate treatment for patients.

“Nurses want to give every kid the care and attention they deserve. But when we have too many patients and too few staff, some things get missed,” said Tracie Henry, a child and adolescent mental health nurse at Unity. “Nurses need a real voice at Unity to advocate for our patients and make sure everyone gets the care they need to heal.”

“When nurses come together and speak with one voice we make a positive difference for our patients and our communities,” said ONA President Lynda Pond, ADN, RN. “We stand in solidarity with the nurses at Unity Center and offer our full support as they continue working to create a safe, caring environment for all people.”

The NLRB will review authorization cards and hold a formal hearing with nurses and Unity management to determine union eligibility and election details. If the majority of nurses vote to join ONA, nurses will select their local nurse leadership team and begin discussions with Unity management on how to improve patient care and raise workplace standards.

Since Unity Center opened in 2017, it has been the subject of multiple Oregon Health Authority investigations which uncovered problems that jeopardized patient safety and threatened Unity’s federal health care certifications. Unity Center has also been fined by Oregon’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration for violating safety rules and faces separate lawsuits from a former staff member and a county mental health investigator who allege they alerted management to safety concerns but were ignored or retaliated against.

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