Providence St. Joseph Health workers to rally for 'patients before profits' at system HQ

Nurses and other healthcare workers will participate in a rally July 26 to urge Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health to put "patients before profits," the unions representing them announced.

The rally — which will take place at the health system's corporate headquarters — includes Providence St. Joseph workers from throughout Washington state, represented by the OPEIU Local 8, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and Washington State Nurses Association.

Union leaders said registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, chaplains, radiology techs, respiratory therapists, hospice workers, social workers, clerks, nutrition workers, environmental services, pharmacists, lab workers and other healthcare workers are rallying to raise awareness about what they see as urgent problems at local Providence St. Joseph facilities. They allege these problems include patient safety concerns, understaffing, unaffordable healthcare, cuts to sick time and unfair pay.

"Providence is raking in huge profits while refusing to commit needed resources for safe staffing and patient care, and trying to gut the sick time benefits that dedicated staff have earned over years of service to our hospitals," Stevie Lynne Krone, a registered nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., said in a news release.

Providence St. Joseph Health officials disputed the union's claims.

In a news release, the hospital said that claim that the system is cutting sick time "is not accurate. We are proposing updates to our time-off benefits, [including] a more secure safety net for employees who become disabled or want to bond with a new child, many of whom go without pay today if they have exhausted their extended illness or sick hours."

As far as compensation, Providence St. Joseph Health officials said compensation for all positions, including the CEO and senior executives, is based on a market average range, and they are confident local hospital officials have offered strong pay and benefit packages as part of contract negotiations.

The officials urged union leaders to return to bargaining tables where contracts are being negotiated in several of the communities the health system serves.


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