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February 14, 2014

Hospital Workers' Union Seeks Ore. Referendum on Executive Pay

Oregon's largest labor union is collecting signatures to place a measure capping compensation for nonprofit hospitals' leaders on this November's ballot, the Portland Business Journal writes.

Initiative No. 39 would limit pay for a hospital's executives to 15 times that of its lowest-paid employee. It is backed by Local 49 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 50,000 janitors, food workers, and other hospital staff members. The union is also backing an effort to require nonprofit medical centers to set "uniform/reasonable rates" and report to state officials on how they determine fees.

The measures will need to get 87,000 valid signatures each to be placed on the November 4 ballot.

"Now is the perfect time, with the Affordable Care Act coming into play and the focus on cost and quality issues" among health-care providers, said Felisa Hagins, political director for Local 49. The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Care Systems opposes the measures, which the industry contends are aimed at giving the union leverage to organize at the state's hospitals.