Seattle Children's nurses call for better pay amid staff shortages

Members of the Washington State Nurses Association held an informational picket Aug. 9 outside Seattle Children's Hospital for higher wages to retain nurses.

The union represents 1,766 nurses at the hospital, the Seattle Children's website states. Seattle Children's has 8,716 total active employees.

Union members are bargaining for a new contract that addresses compensation, staffing and turnover. The union and hospital have been bargaining for four months and are still in negotiations, according to the Seattle Times. A hospital spokesperson told the newspaper in a statement that "like many healthcare organizations across the country, Seattle Children's is experiencing a staffing shortage, which strains our system as a whole."

The union contends higher wages are needed to reduce staffing shortages and retain nurses who live in the community. It also has put pressure on the hospital to pay its staff nurses more instead of paying travel nurse wages and offering hiring bonuses. "I am forever hopeful we'll be able to reach a good agreement, a good compromise with the hospital that will ultimately retain nurses, here at Seattle Children's. Hopefully with the turnout [at the informational picket], it will be enough pressure on the hospital to do the right thing and staff the hospital safely," charge nurse Kara Yates, RN, told NBC affiliate KING 5.

"Seattle Children's deeply values and supports our team members and is committed to being a leader in compensation in the Seattle/Tacoma market," the hospital said in an email to the Seattle Times. "Seattle Children's entry-level nurses' base pay is $36 per hour, or approximately $75,000 annually."

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Aug. 10, 11 and 15. 

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