Nurses on verge of 'largest healthcare strike in recent history' in Washington state, union says

Nurses and caregivers at Seattle-based Swedish Medical Center said they are moving closer to a strike at seven Swedish sites in Washington.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW — which represents more than 8,000 nurses, nursing assistants, techs, lab workers, dietary workers, environmental service workers, clerks, social workers and other healthcare workers at Swedish — announced the news Dec. 19. 

"Nurses and caregivers are raising alarms that patient care problems and severe understaffing have worsened since Swedish was taken over by the corporate giant Providence," union officials said.

Medical center workers have authorized strikes at First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds, Issaquah and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek, but the strikes could be averted if an agreement is reached when bargaining resumes Dec. 30.

Failure to reach an agreement would include more than 8,000 members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish and more than 13,000 total strikers at 13 Providence locations in Washington, including members of UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association, according to SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. 

The union contends it "would be the largest healthcare strike in recent history."

Swedish expressed disappointment in the news of the potential strike.

"SEIU 1199NW issued a press release announcing an 'imminent strike' in an effort to exert pressure on Swedish during the bargaining process," a statement from the medical center says. "Given that we have another bargaining session scheduled for Monday, Dec. 30, we feel the union's message is counterproductive. A strike would not only represent a step backward in our negotiations but could prove disruptive to patients who rely on Swedish for their care."

Swedish has been in negotiations with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW since April.  


More articles on human resources:
14 labor strikes in 2019
Ascension Genesys Hospital, Teamsters sued over nurse's union dues deductions
Striking Kaiser therapists to rally in Oakland and Los Angeles, march on Kaiser corporate headquarters 


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