Using their strength as members of SEIU Healthcare 1199 Northwest, more than 1,000 nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, dietary and housekeeping staff, and more have brought the $15 per hour minimum wage to the Eastside in a new contract agreement with EvergreenHealth.
The caregivers also secured across-the-board annual wage increases totaling at least nine percent, an increased investment in training and career advancement, improvements to health benefits, and a stronger voice in staffing.
“This contract shows the difference having a union can make,” said Marlita Mingaracal, a Monitor Tech and Health Unit Coordinator in a press release. “None of this would be possible if the hospital was the only decision maker – it takes both of us at the table to win for our patients, our communities, and our families.”
Whereas Seattle and Seatac raised their minimum wages to $15 per hour, the statewide minimum is phasing-in up to $13.50. Starting immediately, no employee at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland in a SEIU Healthcare 1199NW-member position will receive less than $15.
Union members across the state have focused on winning this improvement in contract agreements and now have brought $15 to communities from Olympia to Spokane in contract agreements with several employers.
“Our families will see greater stability in our benefits and will get raises that keep us up to speed with the increasing cost of living,” said Brittany Berck, a Health Unit Coordinator and CNA in a press release. “All of this means better recruitment and retention, which leads to better patient care.”
The caregivers also won a new commitment from the hospital to engage in organizational equity and inclusion work with the caregivers, including paid training for some managers and caregivers. Union members point to the need for increased training and a more intentional approach to tackle issues of both workplace bias and health disparity.
“Our new agreement means EvergreenHealth will be a better place both to work and to receive care,” said Lynda Hinz, a Masters in Social Work working in Home Health in a press release. “It took hard work to get here, but we’re looking forward to improvements that keep experienced caregivers at the bedside and allow caregivers to better support our families.”
The settlement includes two agreements – a social worker and chaplain contract that had been under negotiation for 18 months and a service worker contract that had been under negotiation since last fall. The agreements expire in 2020.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is 29,000 nurses, healthcare workers, and mental health workers united to improve our jobs and the care we give.