Providence hospital, nurses agree on proposed contract

EVERETT — A tentative agreement has been reached in a labor dispute between Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and 1,400 registered nurses.

An agreement was reached Monday evening, said Tom Geiger, a spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 21.

“The bargaining team fully recommends a yes vote,” he said. Details of the agreement, including its length, will not be disclosed publicly until after a vote on the contract, which is scheduled for April 29, he said.

Union representatives have said for the past several months that the biggest issue holding up an agreement was staffing levels. The union said more nurses are needed to adequately meet the treatment needs of patients.

If either side moved on the issue of staffing, neither was saying.

Speaking on behalf of Providence, Barbara Hyland-Hill, the chief nursing officer, said Tuesday that staffing is an issue “we continue to work through” but added that the hospital had agreed to not disclose details of the proposed contract until after the union vote.

In February, Hyland-Hill conceded that there had been a significant increase in the number of patients being treated at the hospital, creating some of staffing problems.

Hyland-Hill said that the tentative agreement was reached about 8:30 p.m. Monday. “Both parties were really delighted we were finally able to come to an agreement that the union felt they could definitely recommend to their membership,” she said.

The two sides had been deadlocked since October, when the contract with the nurses expired. A federal mediator joined the discussions in January. Two bargaining sessions were held last week, and then the final session was held on Monday.

Nurses stepped up their efforts over the last few months to win public support for their cause. In February, union members handed out leaflets on the hospital campus outlining their concerns. Last month, several hundred union members lined the street on the hospital’s north side as part of their informational picketing.

At a late afternoon rally that day, the nurses were joined by Everett firefighters and representatives from two big Boeing unions — the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers(IAM).

Sharon Salyer: 425-33903486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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