Chiffon Jones, a surgical tech, leads a chant as hundreds of nurses and caregivers walk the picket line outside of Swedish Edmonds hospital on Jan. 28 in Edmonds. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Chiffon Jones, a surgical tech, leads a chant as hundreds of nurses and caregivers walk the picket line outside of Swedish Edmonds hospital on Jan. 28 in Edmonds. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Swedish nurses and caregivers voting virtually on new deal

New deal includes 13.5% raises over three years, $1,000 ratification bonus and benefits protections.

SEATTLE — Nurses and caregivers across all Swedish Medical Center locations, including the Edmonds hospital, are voting virtually on a new union contract.

On March 27, Swedish and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW reached a tentative agreement on a deal, the union told its members.

Swedish and the union aren’t disclosing details of the contract until it’s ratified. Information obtained by The Herald shows the deal includes 13.5% raises over three years, a $1,000 ratification bonus for members, new staffing requirements and backup child and elder care.

“We are excited to announce that we have reached tentative agreements on collective bargaining agreements with SEIU 1199NW,” Swedish spokeswoman Tiffany Moss said in an email.

Ballots are due by 2 p.m. Monday.

The contract comes as hospitals and clinics across the country deal with the new risks and patient surges surrounding the new coronavirus.

In March, Swedish and the union agreed to 25-40% wage increases for employees who pick up extra shifts and commitments to paid leave for nurses and caregivers exposed to the virus.

It’s been a year since contract talks started between Swedish Medical Center and the union that represents 8,000 of its employees.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members said they were fighting for safe staffing levels, wage increases and benefit protections.

Since negotiations began, the union threatened to strike, then pulled back for a marathon bargaining session with a federal mediator. When that failed, thousands of workers took part in a three-day strike across all locations. After the walkout, Gov. Jay Inslee got involved, bringing in a world-renowned labor negotiator to broker a deal.

At one point, the two sides submitted proposals through a federal mediator, and not face-to-face, because tensions were so high after the strike.

Nurses and caregivers are using video conferences to cast their ballots. Voting started last weekend.

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