UW Medicine invests in 'historic' raises for nurses

Members of the Washington State Nurses Association have approved a new contract with Seattle-based UW Medicine that includes significant raises, The Seattle Times reported Oct. 20.

The union represents about 2,000 nurses at UW Medicine's Montlake and Northwest campuses. Union members reached tentative deals with UW Medicine on Sept. 30 and approved their new contract weeks later.

"This is really big," Janet Bower, a registered nurse who works at UW Medicine’s Montlake campus and served on the union's bargaining committee, told The Seattle Times. "I've been there 37 years and never seen a raise this large." 

Under the new contract, nurses at both campuses will receive a 4 percent across-the-board pay increase on July 1, 2023, and a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase on July 1, 2024, according to the UW Medicine labor relations web page. The contract also includes recruitment and retention pay raises of 5 percent (retroactive to Aug. 1, 2022); 4 percent on Jan. 1, 2023; 9 percent on July 1, 2023, and 3 percent on July 1, 2024.

Overall, this equates to salary increases of more than 20 percent over the next couple years, according to The Seattle Times.

Ms. Bower told the publication that newer nurses will also receive a 2 percent raise at the beginning of 2023 to help with recruitment and retention efforts.

The new contract with the Washington State Nurses Association comes as UW Medicine has also reached agreements with SEIU 1199NW, SEIU 925 and the Washington Federation of State Employees. The three unions and the Washington State Nurses Association collectively represent thousands of UW Medicine workers. Unionized workers include clerical, administrative, technical support, service workers and various other healthcare professionals.

In a statement shared with Becker's, UW Medicine said, "Our employees are the backbone of UW Medicine, and we value each member of the team and appreciate their commitment to our mission of improving the health of the public. We have been in negotiations with all four unions that represent thousands of staff working across our health system.  We are pleased that the Washington State Nurses Association has agreed to our new contract, and we have concluded negotiations and ratified contracts with SEIU 1199NW, SEIU 925 and the Washington Federation of State Employees. The new agreements are historic and provide some of the largest incremental pay increases we have ever negotiated. These increases provide competitive compensation and will help us recruit and retain the staff required to deliver outstanding care to our patients."

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