EVERETT — After six months of negotiation, contract talks between Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and 1,400 registered nurses remain deadlocked.
The two sides have been unable to come to an agreement despite working with a federal mediator.
Tuesday afternoon, nurses plan informational picketing on the hospital’s two Everett campuses. A rally is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the main hospital at 1700 13th Ave.
Union representatives say the major issue is a need for more staffing. Like other metro Puget Sound hospitals, Providence has seen significant increases in the number of people hospitalized and emergency room patients.
Providence says it has added about 80 nurses since January to help meet demand.
The nurses are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. At the rally Tuesday, they are expected to be 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), said UFCW spokesman Tom Geiger.
“We’re not on strike,” Geiger said. “There hasn’t been a recommendation for a strike vote yet. But an informational picket is sort of one step short of that.”
Danielle Percival, a union member who works as a head nurse on the night shift, said neither side in the dispute wants a strike. Percival said she hopes the union events Tuesday help convince the hospital that the community supports the nurses.
Barbara Hyland-Hill, Providence’s chief nursing officer, said the hospital “will do everything in our power to avoid a strike.”
Anyone needing health services at the hospital shouldn’t be concerned that the contract dispute will affect their care, Hyland-Hill said.
The nurses’ contract expired Oct. 31. There have been 15 negotiating sessions and several temporary contract extensions, the last of which expired Feb. 27. The union had hoped for a breakthrough during a negotiating session earlier this month, Geiger said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
No additional bargaining sessions have been scheduled, but a federal mediator has been asked to set a date for more talks, Hyland-Hill said.
The union has suggested having someone from outside the hospital help mediate staffing issues. The hospital feels it has measures in place to address the issues in a timely way, Hyland-Hill said.
“This is really about collaboration with our nurses.”
The hospital has offered three years of wage increases. Nurses would get a about a 5.5 percent raise the first year, about 5.25 percent the second year and about 5.5 percent the third year.
Percival said union members generally are satisfied with that offer.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; email@example.com.
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