Nurse Amber Palermo, and a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on June 6. (Andy Bronson / The Herald, file)

Nurse Amber Palermo, and a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on June 6. (Andy Bronson / The Herald, file)

Providence nurses get raises and a reply on staffing concern

A three-year contract has been ratified. Professional and technical union members are still negotiating.

EVERETT — Providence Regional Medical Center Everett has reached a contract agreement with the union that represents 1,600 registered nurses at the hospital.

The understanding appears to end an eight-month standoff over staffing levels and pay.

Members of the union ratified the three-year contract Friday, according to Suzanne Woodard, a labor and delivery nurse who was part of the negotiating team.

The hospital and union agreed to a 2.25 percent salary increase in the first year, with 2.5 percent raises for the next two years, she said.

“Like any negotiation it wasn’t as much as we want, but it was more than (Providence) wanted to give,” she said.

In a prepared statement Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Lisa Daly said the contract “allows us to continue our collaboration with our nurses to make sure our workplace meets or exceeds staffing guidelines in order to provide and ensure high-quality, compassionate care.”

The nurses have been working under an extension of the previous contract, according to their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21. Representatives said a major sticking point has been the need for more nurses, which they link to patient safety.

About 150 hospital workers and supporters held informational lunchtime pickets June 6 at Providence’s Colby and Pacific campuses.

During contract negotiations in late June, Providence and the nurses came to an agreement about how to handle future complaints about staffing levels, Woodard said.

Under the new terms, nurses would have an established path to bring those concerns to supervisors.

In the past, submitting such messages was akin to “sending it off to the Death Star,” Woodard said. “You send it but never hear back.”

Now, nurses will be guaranteed a response, she said.

Providence declined to comment Tuesday beyond its statement.

“We greatly value our caregivers and have always been confident that we would be able to reach this result,” Daly wrote in an email.

Professional and technical staff are still negotiating contracts with Providence, said Tom Geiger, a spokesman for the union. He declined to share a copy of the nurses’ agreement.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @lizzgior.

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