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Workers OK Strike at Seattle Hospital Chain

December 24, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SEATTLE, Wash.—More than 8,000 nurses and caregivers at Swedish Medical Center, the largest health-care provider in the Seattle, area have voted to authorize strikes, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW announced Dec. 19. The union said “management refused to make meaningful progress at the last contract negotiations on December 9” and that Providence Health & Services, which acquired Swedish in 2011 and is the largest health-care corporation in Washington State, “need to put patient safety before CEO pay.” Workers from nurses to cleaners complain about understaffing, while Providence’s CEO gets paid more than $10 million a year. “The safe staffing standard in emergency rooms is one nurse for every four patients, which should be followed at all times,” Whitney Powers, a nurse at Swedish Edmonds in Seattle’s northern suburbs, said in 1199NW’s press release. “But we are often required to care for five or six patients at a time, many of whom can be in severe distress.” If there is a strike, 1199NW members at Swedish’s five hospitals and two ambulatory-care centers would be joined by 5,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association at six other Providence facilities in the state. Read more

December 24, 2019

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