Nurse Katy Roth and her husband, Rod, a union member with Labor Local 292, walk with other nurses on a picket line at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nurse Katy Roth and her husband, Rod, a union member with Labor Local 292, walk with other nurses on a picket line at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett nurses say staffing so bad, no time for the bathroom

Health-care provider contracts have expired, or will soon. They took to the picket line on Wednesday.

EVERETT — In yards and along roadsides, hundreds of yellow and blue signs have flooded Snohomish County, urging support of nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

After nearly eight months of contract negotiations, the hospital and 1,600 registered nurses still are not seeing eye to eye.

The nurses’ contract expired in October. Since then the nurses have been working under an extension of the previous agreement, according to the union. Representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 say the major sticking point is the need for more staffing.

“It’s been an issue for years,” said James Crowe, negotiations director for the union.

Nurses took further action Wednesday by holding lunchtime pickets at Providence’s Colby and Pacific campuses. At the Colby location, about 150 hospital workers and supporters held signs as they marched along 13th Street, chanting at times: “Hey Providence listen up, your workers are standing up.”

UFCW organizer Graciela Nune affixes cards addressed to various administrators on a board as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. The boards, with notes pleading for a contract settlement, are to be presented to the administrators tomorrow. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

UFCW organizer Graciela Nune affixes cards addressed to various administrators on a board as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. The boards, with notes pleading for a contract settlement, are to be presented to the administrators tomorrow. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“While informational picketing has no impact on patient care, we are disappointed that the union has chosen this option, and we would prefer to get back to the bargaining table,” hospital spokeswoman Lisa Daly wrote in an email. “Providence Regional Medical Center Everett continues to remain committed to negotiating in good faith.”

The nurses were joined Wednesday by professional and technical staff, who also are bargaining new contracts. The contract for technical staff expires in June, and the professional staff contract ended in March. Staffing levels are an issue for these workers as well, Crowe said.

Workers inside the hospital could be seen waving and cheering on the demonstrators. The picketers also wrote postcard messages to management.

Suzanne Woodard, a labor and delivery nurse who was picketing, said staffing levels are at a bare minimum, which means many nurses weren’t getting breaks or chances to use the restroom.

Nurses often work 12-hour shifts, she said, “I challenge anyone to be on your feet for 12 hours and not sit down.”

A supporter waves from a window as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A supporter waves from a window as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Woodard, who is part of the negotiating team, said the nurses were concerned about patient safety.

“We work in the trenches,” she said. “We know what are appropriate staffing levels or not.”

The hospital declined to comment about staffing levels.

Since September, the union and hospital representatives have met more than a dozen times. And as of January, a federal mediator has been assisting the negotiations, Daly said. The two groups are scheduled to talk again Monday.

“While we are pleased we’ve made progress in some areas, we still have additional items to discuss … keeping in mind our shared goal of continuing to provide high-quality, compassionate care to our patients and community,” she said.

Nurse Amber Palermo, a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nurse Amber Palermo, a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Woodard said she was hopeful the two groups can work out a deal.

“We hope to avoid a strike,” Woodard said, “but we are prepared to do so if that’s what it takes.”

Providence is the second largest employer in the county. In 2017, Providence had more than 31,000 inpatient admissions and handled nearly 90,000 emergency room visits, making it one of the busiest emergency rooms in the state.

_______

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.co. Twitter: @lizzgior.

More in Northwest

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee shakes hands with Dinah Griffey after signing Senate Bill 5649 on April 19. The law revises the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Hits and misses from Legislature’s 2019 session

New laws target vaccines, sex crimes and daylight savings; losers include sex ed and dwarf tossing bills.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to protesting nurses on April 24 at the State Capitol Building in Olympia. Inslee indicated he would sign the bill for meal and rest breaks into law if it passes both chambers. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Lawmakers approve ‘nursing bill’ for mandatory meal and rest breaks

Nurses show up in Olympia to support bill, protest Sen. Walsh’s remarks.

Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)
‘Barefoot Bandit’ asks judge to shorten his supervised release

Colton Harris-Moore says travel restrictions are holding back a lucrative public-speaking career.

USPS district manager Darrell Stoke, Janie Hendrix and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) unveil the plaque honorarily naming the Renton Highlands Post Office as the “James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office” on Friday, April 19. Photo by Haley Ausbun
Highlands Post Office honors Jimi Hendrix

Postal Service connected Hendrix to family during his Army service.

Walkers rest amid the trees at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island, which is part of King County. Many trees around Western Washington are struggling, including Western hemlock on Vashon, likely from drought stress. Photo by Susie Fitzhugh
King County forests are facing new challenges

Hot, dry summers are stressing native tree species in Western Washington.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

Federal Way resident competes for top 20 spot on ‘American Idol’

Todd Beamer senior Myra Tran previously won “The X-Factor Vietnam” in 2016.

Photo by Kayse Angel
What’s next for the I-405 master plan?

New express toll lanes from Renton to Bellevue are coming soon.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state