Swedish nurse strike still possible following Dec. 30 negotiations

Not enough progress was made, nurses unions say.

Unhappy with proposals from Providence Health during a Dec. 30 bargaining session, nurses working for Swedish Medical Centers could still decide to go on strike.

Swedish, and it’s parent company Providence, have been in negotiations with nurses’ unions since last April. Nurses cited concerns about under-staffing, hundreds of unfilled positions and wages too low to live near the hospitals or clinics where they work.

There are more than 900 open positions across the Swedish and Providence campuses, and nurses are concerned about how low staff levels can harm patients, a press release from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW said. The union represents 8,000 nurses and other staff at the medical centers and hospitals.

Low staffing levels can lead to longer wait times, the release said. Additionally, standby pay for on-call workers sits around $4.25 an hour with unpredictable schedules.

A press release issued by Swedish said they proposed a 5.5% pay increase by next July and a $750 per-person sign-on bonus in an attempt to avoid a strike. It said nurses at Swedish on average earn more than $96,000 annually. It said it also offered zero-premium medical plans for full-time caregivers and their family.

However, the union’s press release said front line worker pay hasn’t kept up with the cost of living in the area. It said the company pays nearly 40% of its employees below the salary needed to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the Seattle area. Workers commute an average of 84 minutes per day.

In the press release, Swedish said staffing remained a top concern. Health care providers across the country are being impacted by shortages, it said. The company said it will partner with SEIU to host discussions in January focusing on retaining candidates.

“We remain optimistic that a strike can be avoided through good-faith negotiations by both parties,” the release read.

Nurses and other caregivers voted to authorize a strike in November. They could be joined by the Washington State Nurses Association and UFCW 21 at other Providence hospitals across the state. In total, 13,000 health care workers across the state could call a strike after delivering a 10-day notice.

More in News

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

Footage from the September incident was shown during a media conference in Seattle put on by the YMCA on Nov. 13. Staff photo/Ashley Hiruko
Kirkland manager on KTUB arrest: ‘The conclusion of the investigation is not the end of our work’

Following the incident, the city is looking to change protocol, enact new trainings and more.

Development has encroached on the East Lake Sammamish Trail (at right). Joe Livarchik/file photo
King County files lawsuit to finish East Lake Sammamish Trail

Homeowners have until September to remove buildings and other property from the right of way.

Bellevue residents Marko and Karla Ilicic play a hockey game in the Topgolf Swing Suite inside Forum Social House. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Forum Social House opens in Bellevue

Eastside gets new nightclub, mini golf, swing suites.

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

King County tax assessor sheds light on senior citizen, disabled taxpayer exemption program

John Wilson stopped by the Peter Kirk Community Center Friday, Jan. 10.

Most Read