Providence nurses, technicians give bargaining teams OK to call strike

Nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett (Wash.) and technicians at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., have authorized their bargaining committees to call a strike, according to the union that represents them

UFCW 21 said June 8 that Providence Everett nurses and Providence St. Peter technicians have been in negotiations since 2020 with little progress on economic issues. The union contends the same is true at Providence Centralia (Wash.) Hospital, where technicians and support services workers will vote June 16 on whether to authorize a strike. 

More specifically, the union cited concerns about Providence's plans at all three facilities to reduce paid time off and move workers onto a short-term disability program which it says does not provide wage replacement if workers are out on medical leave for a family member. 

"We intend to continue bargaining with Providence, but we need to prepare for a strike if things do not progress," said UFCW 21. 

Providence hospital representatives expressed disappointment about the strike authorization votes. 

They said Providence Regional Medical Center Everett "is proud of the strong proposals we have put on the table, including a new round of improvements on wages and benefits." 

"A strike at PRMCE would represent a step backward in our negotiations and would undermine the momentum we have worked hard to build," the officials said. 

At Providence St. Peter, where workers are negotiating their first contract, officials said a strike there, too, would be a step back in bargaining but also could disrupt patient care. 

The officials said, "When new bargaining units are formed, it typically takes a longer period of time to come to consensus on an initial contract." 

"Providence has put a strong set of proposals on the table, including improvements on wages," said Providence St. Peter. "We want to continue to bargain in good faith. We are serious about reaching an agreement through bargaining and hope UFCW Local 21 shares our commitment to find solutions that work."

A strike authorization does not mean a strike will take place. It does, however, give bargaining units the ability to call a strike. UFCW 21 is obligated to give the hospital a 10-day notice of a walkout would occur.

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