OR: SEIU 49 Withdraws Ballot Measures to Limit Hospital Executive Pay


SEIU Local 49 in Oregon has reversed its decision to pursue ballot initiatives related to hospital executive compensation, rates, charity care and transparency.

The Governor’s Office issued a news release Thursday announcing that the union had agreed to drop the ballot measures and form a work group to examine concerns about hospital costs and quality with Legacy Health, Providence Health & Services, Oregon Health & Sciences University, PeaceHealth, Kaiser Permanente Northwest and the Oregon Nurses Association.

These organizations, along with SEIU and the Govenor’s Office, have agreed to accelerate progress toward the health care “Triple Aim”:

  • Improving patient experience, including quality and satisfaction;
  • Improving health; and
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care

Felisa Hagins, political director for Local 49, told the Portland Business Journal that the union was “more than prepared to go forward” with the ballot initiatives, which would have required hospitals to set uniform and reasonable rates and limit executive pay, among other things. “The point is to make change in these areas, so we were going to do it in one way or the other,” she said.

Governor John Kitzhaber applauded the agreement, which, he said, “moves our shared health reform goals forward far better than a multi-million dollar ballot measure fight.”

“I appreciate the willingness of SEIU and the hospitals to work together and move this conversation away from political combat,” Kitzhaber said.  “I believe that the hospitals and SEIU have enough common interests and shared values that we should be able to work together to achieve the goals of the Triple Aim through ongoing engagement of frontline workers.”

The news release issued by the Governor’s Office included this statement from Dave Underriner, CEO of Providence Health & Services in Oregon and chair-elect of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems:

“We appreciate the Governor’s leadership in finding a way forward and focusing on the common ground we share on behalf of our patients and the communities we serve.  We look forward to productive conversations on how we can collectively continue our efforts to improve patient care, improve the health of our communities and lower overall costs within the context of health care transformation.”

The Statesman Journal reported Thursday that the hospital association did not immediately return calls requesting comment on the agreement.