Providence hospital workers plan 9-day strike

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers 3000 are set to begin an nine-day strike April 22 at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

The union represents about 500 of Providence Sacred Heart's caregivers, according to a hospital statement shared with Becker's. Providence Sacred Heart is part of Renton, Wash.-based Providence, a 51-hospital health system with 122,000 caregivers total.

Unionized technical workers previously voted to authorize a strike, and the union issued a strike notice April 12 after months of negotiations with the hospital, according to UFCW 3000 and hospital statements. The Providence Sacred Heart statement said that the hospital bargaining team proposed "significant wage increases and contract enhancements" during negotiations, including "substantial wage increases for caregivers in the first three months of the contract."

The union contends that during bargaining, hospital management has "shown us consistent disrespect" and not adequately invested in staff to address what they say is chronic short-staffing. "Without a better contract, we will continue to lose the technical staff required to offer the highest level of care. Our patients deserve the best care team possible, and we can't achieve that if technical staff can work down the street for better pay, fairer treatment, a higher level of respect, and less demanding work," the union said.

"The hospital is well prepared for the strike and assures patients and the community that we will remain open with all services continuing," the hospital statement said. "Our community can expect to receive the safe, high-quality care they've come to know Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for. The hospital will maintain its daily operations and has contracted replacement workers for members of the bargaining unit who choose to strike." 

Editor's note: This story was updated on April 15.

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