Supporters of nurses march across from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on May 5. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Supporters of nurses march across from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on May 5. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett nurses threaten to strike as contract talks stall

Union leaders say Providence’s latest offer includes low wages and cuts to benefits and paid leave.

EVERETT — Nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett are threatening to strike as contract talks stall between hospital brass and the union.

Officials from UFCW 21, the union that represents 1,700 nurses across both Everett campuses, say Providence’s latest offer brings below-market wages, as well as cuts to medical benefits and paid leave.

“As qualified caregivers leave Providence Everett due to COVID burnout and more competitive compensation at other area hospitals, these nurses are taking a stand and asking Providence to respect health care workers, leave their earned leave alone, and agree to proposals that will ensure safe staffing levels and better patient care,” union spokesperson Anna Minard said in an email.

On June 2, union members voted to authorize a strike, though no date has been set and the nurses must give the hospital a 10-day notice.

“It is disappointing that the UFCW Local 21 RN unit decided to hold a strike authorization vote, especially since we continue to bargain in good faith and with the use of federal mediators since March,” Providence said in a statement. “Providence Regional Medical Center Everett is proud of the strong proposals we have put on the table, including a new round of improvements on wages and benefits. A strike at PRMCE would represent a step backward in our negotiations and would undermine the momentum we have worked hard to build.”

Providence and the nurses union have been in contract talks since October. Last time the two sides reached a deal, the negotiations took 10 months.

“We’ve been at this eight months now and we’re just so far apart now on everything,” nurse Julie Bynum said.

Providence and the union are set to meet again three more times in June to bargain.

This isn’t the first time staff at the Everett hospital threatened to strike amid stalled contract talks.

In October 2019, hundreds of technical and professional employees at Providence’s Everett hospitals, also represented by UFCW 21, authorized a walkout, citing low-ball offers from hospital administrators.

Months later, the two sides agreed to a deal, shortly after a date for the strike was announced.

In January 2020, nurses and caregivers at Swedish Edmonds went on a three-day strike to protect medical benefits and improve staffing.

With no deal following the strike, Gov. Jay Inslee got involved, and weeks later, the two sides agreed to a contract.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated nurses at Swedish Edmonds went on a 10-day strike. The strike lasted three days.

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

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