Swedish nurses authorize strike if negotiations stay stalled

Workers at all Swedish campuses, including Edmonds’, are asking for increased staffing, better wages.

EDMONDS — Nurses and health care workers standing outside Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center announced Friday their union, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, had authorized a strike that would affect all Swedish hospitals, including the Edmonds campus.

The union, which represents 8,000 members in Swedish hospitals, voted in an effort to bring company brass back to negotiations for increased staffing, higher wages and better benefits. While union members authorized the strike, there’s been no decision on whether workers will carry one out.

“I didn’t become a nurse to provide minimal care,” Carol Lightle, a nurse at Swedish Issaquah, said in a news release. “Every health care worker could tell you that, and all of us face the same issues.”

The union’s contract with Swedish ended in June but was extended to the end of July. Negotiations for a new deal started in April.

In a statement Tuesday, Swedish leadership said they were disappointed the union was using the threat of a strike during negotiations.

“A strike would not only represent a step backwards in our negotiations but could prove disruptive to patients who count on us for their care,” the statement said. “Swedish has put a strong set of proposals on the table, including a new round of improvements on wages and benefits. We want to continue to bargain in good faith and to keep the federal mediators engaged to move the negotiations forward.”

Members are saying Swedish and parent-company Providence’s priorities have shifted from patient care to executive pay and company expansion.

“When corporations take over community hospitals, they prioritize the bottom line over the people in the community – nurses and patients,” Martha Galvez, a nurse at Richland-based Kadlec Regional Medical Center said in a news release. “That’s what Providence is doing in the Tri-Cities and communities across Washington. That’s just wrong.”

After Friday’s vote, workers met with administrative leaders Monday, but are “essentially in the same place,” SEIU 1199NW spokesperson Amy Clark said.

“Swedish management still believes the proposals they’ve made to form a committee (to address issues) would solve the problem,” she said.

Nurses and health care workers at Swedish are joining others in the state, including at Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center, threatening action if executives don’t continue negotiations.

At nearby Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County, workers organized a union in 2016 and are still negotiating their first contract, Clark said. The union is asking for the same standards and conditions already provided at a similar Providence facility in Lacey, she said.

“The outside appearance of it is that Providence is doing everything that it can to prevent workers from organizing, to prevent workers from negotiating and to prevent workers from having contracts,” Clark said.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lynnwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lynnwood bookkeeper gets federal prison for embezzling $298K

Judith Wright, 75, was sentenced Friday to six months for writing fraudulent checks to herself. It wasn’t the first time.

Kevin Duncan puts his ballot in the ballot drop box outside of the Arlington Library on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Arlington, Wash. The Arlington school District has three measures on the February ballot, including one to replace Post Middle School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
High court: State must pay for some, not all, ballot boxes

Snohomish County sued to recoup the cost of adding 21 ballot drop boxes to comply with a 2017 law.

Les Parks, left, talks with his daughter, Kenzi Parks, after a laser etched drum finished printing Tuesday afternoon at his home in Tulalip, Washington on January 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After 1,200 positive cases, Tulalip Tribes face ‘deepest fear’

“We used to be big on family doings — not anymore.” On top of a cultural toll, the pandemic has exposed health inequities.

Stevens Pass on Dec. 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Amid rocky ski season with 300 complaints, Stevens Pass offers deal

Vail Resorts said returning customers can get discounts for 2022-23 if they renew their passes by May 30.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Council approves lease for Bezos Academy at Everett Station

The preschool will be tuition-free. “I just know how darned important it is,” Councilmember Liz Vogeli said.

‘Armed and dangerous’ carjacking suspect last seen in Edmonds

A man in a stolen truck led troopers on a chase. He crashed, assaulted another driver and took that car.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, left, speaks on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during debate on a measure that would delay implementation of a long-term care program and the payroll tax that pays for it. The Senate passed the measure, which was passed by the House last week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measure on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delay of Washington’s long-term-care program signed into law

The bill addresses concerns about the program’s solvency and criticism about elements of the underlying law.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Most Read