Swedish to invest $125M in employee pay increases

Seattle-based Swedish Health Services has reached memorandums of agreement with Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199NW to raise wages for 7,200 employees, according to statements from both parties, which were shared with Becker's Sept. 22.

Swedish said the agreements cover five bargaining units and include total base wage increases of at least 21.5 percent between now and July 2025, along with other pay increases, bonuses and wage grid adjustments that will result in increased pay for certain classifications. This includes market adjustments for nurses and other job classes, including nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and emergency department technicians. Overall, the agreements provide $125 million in additional compensation.

"I am proud that we are significantly improving wages to support our caregivers and aid our retention and recruitment in a highly competitive market," R. Guy Hudson, MD, CEO of Swedish Health Services, said in the health system's statement. "I am especially pleased that we were able to provide a package that will benefit caregivers, reward longer-term team members for their years of service and boost our efforts to recruit and retain nurses."

Union members approved a new contract Sept. 20 after the union reached a tentative agreement earlier in September. Both parties negotiated the pay increases as part of expedited economic bargaining that they said was designed to raise wages months before the existing labor deals were up for renegotiation in July 2023. Additionally, the union said the contract builds on equity and inclusion language it negotiated in 2020.

"With staffing levels being as dangerous as they are, both our union and Providence Swedish knew that equitable wage increases and incentives couldn't wait until the next contract," Jane Hopkins, RN, president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, said in the union's statement. "Everyone came to the table ready to collaborate in good faith, to apply racial justice principles, and to elevate our union leadership's vision of fostering anti-racist workplaces. We stayed true to our values, and we secured a historic economic package that will both keep healthcare workers at Swedish and recruit new workers."

Swedish is a nonprofit health system with five hospital campuses and is affiliated with Renton, Wash.-based Providence. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents more than 32,000 caregivers in hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana.

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