Session 27 OHSU + ONA Bargaining: VPs meet with the bargaining teams

The Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon Nurses Association bargaining teams on Wednesday, Aug. 23, met for mediation, and three of OHSU’s vice presidents spoke about the letter of intent with Legacy Health, and fielded questions from the ONA bargaining team.

Lawrence Furnstahl, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Alice Cuprill Comas, J.D., executive vice president for institutional affairs and general counsel, and Brooke Baldwin, D.N.P., M.S.N., RN, executive vice president and chief nursing executive, were present for the discussion, along with OHSU’s bargaining team. Here are the highlights of the discussion: 

Letter of Intent 

  • The non-binding letter of intent outlines the intent to create an integrated health care system under the control of OHSU. 
  • The goal is to expand health care services to better serve Oregonians, and to create long-term growth that will support and better ensure the longevity of the health care system and support employees. 


  • The letter of intent is the first step in a long process that must be undertaken before any transaction is finalized. 
  • Parties are now in the “due diligence” phase, during which OHSU investigates to determine whether it can and should move forward with the transaction.   
  • At the conclusion of the “due diligence” phase — if OHSU and Legacy determine that the transaction should move forward — final agreements will be drafted detailing the transaction’s terms and conditions, which may look different than those in the letter of intent. These will be filed with Oregon Health Authority and other governmental bodies for regulatory approval. Regulatory approval will be required for any transaction to occur.    
  • The timeline for this regulatory approval is not within OHSU’s control. OHSU estimates that the soonest it could occur is near the end of 2024.   

Financial Impact 

  • The transaction will largely be funded through bonds, i.e. borrowed money, that will be used on capital improvements. This means that the funds will be used on buildings, technology and equipment, and represent an investment into what would then be OHSU facilities that will further support the health system’s growth and ability to serve patients.    
  • The transaction does not affect the operating budget that OHSU will use to fund the wage enhancements in these ONA negotiations. 
  • The letter of intent has no impact on what OHSU is investing in the ONA negotiations. OHSU’s economic proposals represent a significant investment into current OHSU nurses. Notably, the 10-year projected cost of the current economic proposal to ONA is over $1 billion (excluding any future wage investments in successor contracts).

Operational Changes 

  • It is still too early in the process to identify operational changes. 
  • As noted in the letter of intent, OHSU remains firm in its commitment to honor the terms of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and to comply with its bargaining obligations for any future, unknown changes that might affect OHSU nurses’ working conditions.    
  • This is a growth strategy and is not undertaken in anticipation of cuts to services or changes in focus for hospitals and the services they provide.     

During the discussion, OHSU emphasized that this transaction is not a done deal, and that a lot remains to be learned and determined. OHSU will be as transparent as possible throughout this process.   

After the three OHSU’s executives spoke, the parties engaged in several productive discussions aimed at finding common ground.  

Going forward 

Mediation will resume on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

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