People gather with candles and signs during a union contract negotiation vigil at Northwest Everett Neighborhood Park across from Providence Region Medical Center Everett on Jan. 8. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

People gather with candles and signs during a union contract negotiation vigil at Northwest Everett Neighborhood Park across from Providence Region Medical Center Everett on Jan. 8. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Contract talks continue for some Swedish, Providence workers

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW will continue talks with Swedish, Providence, a week after postponing strike.

EVERETT — It was shaping up to be another late night Friday for negotiators from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and Swedish and parent-company Providence.

After a week of tentative contract agreements between Providence and union members across the state, nurses and caregivers at Swedish hospitals, including Edmonds, and Hospice and Homecare of Snohomish County in Everett are still without a contract. But, both sides are optimistic about reaching a deal.

The talks are expected to extend late into Friday night, capping off a week of contract agreements between Providence and two other unions bargaining for some 5,000 of the health-care provider’s employees.

On Wednesday, UFCW 21 announced members at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and the health-care provider reached a tentative deal.

UFCW 21 union represents 450 technical workers and 200 professionals at the Everett hospital. The union’s other members at Providence affiliates in Olympia, Walla Walla and Centralia also agreed to contracts this week.

“These (agreements) represent advances for patient care and safety and improvement of workplace conditions and they have been made possible by the unity of SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW, WSNA and UFCW 21,” said Tom Geiger, a UFCW 21 spokesman, in a news release.

Ratification votes for those contracts will be scheduled in the coming weeks, Geiger said.

Negotiations, which started in April for Swedish members and 2016 for hospice and homecare workers in Everett, could go into next week, said Amy Clark, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW spokesperson.

Providence employees across the state have been asking for higher wages, lower caseloads and better benefits.

Last week, leaders from the three unions were expected to file a 10-day strike notice amid stalling negotiations, but an all-nighter with a federal mediator kept both sides at the bargaining table through this week.

If called, a strike could’ve involved 13,000 employees statewide.

While negotiations continued Friday, the National Right to Work Foundation announced a Swedish employee filed federal charges against SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, accusing the union of ignoring two requests to end his membership and collecting dues despite the fact that the union’s contract with Swedish is expired.

“It is our policy not to comment on legal matters,” Clark said.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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