Alaska hospital employees withdraw strike notice, reach tentative deal

Workers at Providence Kodiak Island (Alaska) Medical Center have canceled plans to strike this month and reached a tentative contract agreement with management, according to the union that represents them. 

The workers had planned to strike indefinitely beginning March 20, but a representative of the Alaska Medical Employees Association, which represents about 200 workers at the hospital, told Becker's Hospital Review the strike notice was withdrawn and a tentative contract agreement had been reached.

Genevieve Cook, union vice president, said members voted against the medical center's proposed contract March 16, but phone negotiations via a mediator resulted in a tentative one-year agreement.

Sick leave benefits had been a sticking point in negotiations. The union said the strike notice was initially given after the hospital insisted on cutting sick leave benefits. Ms. Cook said the tentative agreement reached this week guarantees current earned sick leave benefits through spring of 2021. 

"We are happy that the importance of paid sick leave is being placed on a national forum and hope Providence St. Joseph Health will also begin to realize this," said Ms. Cook. "However, now is the time to focus on COVID-19 and as it begins to affect our island community, we will be there to take care of our community."   

Becker's Hospital Review was not able to reach the medical center for comment. 

Both sides plan to return to the negotiating table in one year. 


More articles on human resources:
Alaska hospital CEO slams 'ill-timed' strike notice amid coronavirus pandemic
Hospitals and unions: 5 recent conflicts, agreements
Baystate Noble Hospital nurses call for restored jobs amid contract talks, coronavirus

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