13,000 Providence Health workers postpone strike

About 13,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at Providence Health locations in Washington state have halted their strike notices.

The workers, who are represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association, were preparing to strike Jan. 14, according to The Spokesman-Review.

But the three unions decided to pause their strike notices after progress in overnight talks, according to a news release from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.

"Providence Health [and] Services has withdrawn proposals that would reduce paid time off and medical benefits and allow subcontracting. The unions have postponed their strike timelines, with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW expecting an imminent return to the bargaining table for marathon negotiating sessions," the news release states.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW said the other two unions have made similar progress in negotiations and pledged to take continue talking.

A statewide strike would have affected nurses, service workers and professional/technical staff at many of the Renton, Wash-based Providence Health locations statewide, including Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, and seven Swedish Medical Center sites in the Seattle area. 

In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Providence officials said they are pleased the potential statewide strike was postponed:

"After productive late-night discussions with bargaining representatives from SEIU 1199NW, UFCW Local 21 and Washington State Nurses Association teams, Providence and its family of organizations in Washington are very pleased that the unions have agreed to expedited negotiations to work toward agreements for each outstanding contract at hospitals throughout the state.

"The union bargaining teams have agreed to hold any strike notification until the end of the expedited negotiations process. We believe this is a positive step toward reaching the shared goal of mutually agreeable contract terms." 

A statement from Swedish also called the postponement decision "a positive step" and said Swedish is optimistic about reaching an agreement with SEIU 1199NW.

This story was updated at 2:54 p.m. Central Standard Time Jan. 3.


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