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Federal Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order Blocking Elimination of Some Health Unit Coordinators at Providence St. Peter Hospital

Providence St. Peter Hospital may have planned to be a holiday Grinch, giving Health Unit Coordinators notice of job cuts that were to happen as soon as December 16, but caregivers together took legal action with their union, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, and today a Federal court has blocked Providence’s plan.

“This sends a clear message that what Providence is doing is wrong,” said Alissa Kautz, a Health Unit Coordinator at St. Pete’s.  “The way Providence treats its staff is unacceptable, and the fact they tried to do this just before the holidays shows how they feel.  If they don’t care about their staff, they don’t care about their patients.  They’re not living their core values.”

Providence St. Peter currently employs about 80 Health Unit Coordinators.  The Health Unit Coordinators play a key role in facilitating patient care by answering calls from physicians and patients’ loved ones, arranging admits and discharges, coordinating patient transport, scheduling labs and tests, and more.  Registered Nurses, Health Unit Coordinators and other caregivers at the hospital had signed a letter to the hospital expressing concerns over the impact of the staffing cuts on the medical units of the hospital.

In addition to eliminating some Health Unit Coordinators, Providence intends to unilaterally move these caregivers from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, resulting in job losses and a life-altering schedule change in the middle of the holidays for the remaining caregivers.

“I’ve been at Providence for 16 years,” said Kautz.  “Seeing people with lower seniority than me have this upheaval in their life is very distressing.  Whether they have been here 6 months or six years, these are people we work with and value.  This restructure would have impacted everybody.”

The temporary restraining order, issued by the Honorable Judge Leighton of the United States District Court – Western Washington, stops any layoff or restructure and orders Providence to appear in court on December 26.

 

December 15th, 2017

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Swedish Nurses, Caregivers Overwhelmingly Vote “No Confidence” in Swedish/Providence Administration

Caregivers speak out about problems with low staffing, racism, poor equipment, and more

SEATTLE- The union of nurses and caregivers at all Swedish-Providence campuses voted 98% “No Confidence” in Swedish and Providence administration following dozens of complaints about poor staffing, broken supplies, and management racism.  The nurses and caregivers announced their vote tonight at a speak out event where a dozen caregivers from Swedish campuses shared examples of what they face at the bedside.

“We, the frontline caregivers, have tried to partner with management, and we’ve tried to make management listen to these critical problems, but they have refused to act,” said Delores Prescott, a nurse at Swedish First Hill.  “We are sounding the alarm—quality patient care is on the line.”

Speakers highlighted problems ranging from Swedish understaffing to having broken suction machines to racist comments from managers that went unaddressed.  The caregivers have raised these problems at the bargaining table, in labor-management and staffing committee meetings, and through direct actions, yet Swedish-Providence has not acted.

“In my unit, we have faced instances where we are without basic supplies and fully functioning equipment that me and my coworkers need to treat patients and care for them,” said Douglas Davis, a tech at Swedish Edmonds.  “One incident that occurred late this summer, my coworker was attempting to treat a patient who was vomiting blood.  Both of the suction machines we would normally use to help a patient in this state were either not working or malfunctioning.  In emergency situations, time is critical and it was only through the resourcefulness of the staff that we were able to avert any further crisis. However, we often don’t have enough staff to handle emergencies like this when they come up.”

A panel of community leaders including Rep. Eileen Cody, Seattle City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, and Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle Michael Ramos heard the comments and responded with a call to action.

“It is unacceptable that Providence is taking the low road, putting profits ahead of patient care at Swedish,” said Robin Wyss, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.  “We will not stand by while our patient care is at risk.”

 

December 14th, 2017

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1199nw-members-with-banner-050113-low-resOn September 5, the Trump administration announced that it is ending protections for 800,000 Americans who were brought here as children.  Ending the Dreamers program, or DACA, means these 800,000 community members could be subject to deportation soon– tearing their families apart.  This despite how well DACA works: it has helped drive economic growth, bolster job creation, keep families together, and promote education and community integration.  We must continue to allow the nearly 800,000 young people to provide for their families, contribute to the economy, and build their futures.

Under Trump’s action, approximately 300,000 people will lose DACA protections and could be deported by the end of 2017.  Essentially, Trump is ordering employers to lay these young people off and making it illegal for anyone else to hire them.

It’s time to take action.  We’re in the streets with our coalition partners and standing up for our communities.

Our elected leaders like Governor Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have also been vocal in their support of the DACA program and we are expecting a legal challenge to the rescinding of the program.

As a union, we have a proud history of fighting for immigrant justice, and we will continue that legacy.  Members from across the state will be meeting with congressional representatives and sharing our stories on why it is crucial that we don’t tear families apart. Furthermore, we will be working with coalitions such as the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network and United We Dream to identify local solutions to enact protections for Dreamers. Talk to your executive board member or organizer for more information.

November 11th, 2017

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Washington CAN! & SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Commend Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Action to Hold CHI Franciscan St. Joseph Accountable to State Charity Care Laws

white-paper-mob-copyTACOMA- The patient-activists of Washington CAN! and the St. Joe’s healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW commend Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing suit on behalf of the patients of our community against CHI Franciscan St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma.

“We are thrilled to see Attorney General Ferguson take decisive action against CHI and uphold this state’s Charity Care requirements ,” said Toni Potter, a Washington CAN! member and activist.  “It takes an organized community speaking out and taking action to hold healthcare corporations accountable to the needs of our communities and our patients.”

Announcement of the AG’s suit comes at a time when CHI Franciscan’s operations are already under fire.  A recent report by Columbia Legal Services showed another CHI Franciscan facility, Highline Medical Center in Burien, has hung up on Spanish-speaking patients in need of charity care information.  And the state AG has also filed suit against CHI Franciscan for alleged price-fixing activities in healthcare on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Last week, the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board also filed a legal Complaint against CHI for violating federal labor law.  The NLRB’s Complaint is in part based on St. Joe’s failure to provide SEIU 1199NW with information related to its collections practices.

Washington CAN! and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW have been working to hold CHI Franciscan accountable for its overpricing, aggressive collections activity, and charity care refusals for several years, including:

2012:                    Washington CAN! hosted community forum and released report “Caring for Pierce County” detailing high pricing yet poor outcomes at Pierce County hospitals

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members and Washington CAN! community activists joined area clergy in a pray-in at the hospital calling for improvements to charity care policies

2014:                    Washington CAN! members, clergy, and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members marched on St. Joe’s CEO to deliver a letter calling for an end to aggressive collections

2015:                    SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members went on strike, calling in part for an end to aggressive collections and an improved charity care policy

Washington CAN! released “Merciless Charity” report detailing aggressive collections and denial of charity care

2017:                    SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members picket the hospital, calling in part for an end to St. Joe’s collections activities against workers

“CHI Franciscan’s policies have harmed patients, including its workers,” said Suzi Powell, a Certified Nursing Assistant at St. Joseph Hospital and member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.  “It’s time for CHI Franciscan to start living its mission and provide quality care for all its patients that doesn’t land us in collections or garnishment.”

 

September 6th, 2017

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The more than 600 Providence St. Peter nursing assistants, dietary and housekeeping staff, sterile processors, and other service workers united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW have won across-the-board wage increases, a $15/hour minimum, health benefit security, and staffing and quality improvements.  The improvements are part of a new contract which union members ratified overwhelmingly in votes this week.

“Our new contract shows the difference our union can make,” said Angel Roberson, a Patient Care Partner/ER Tech at St. Pete’s and bargaining team member.  “We’re proud to win raises for everyone and also to be bringing the $15 minimum to Olympia and raise the standards for us, for our level of patient care, and for our community.”

Whereas Seattle and Seatac raised their minimum wages to $15/hour, statewide the minimum is phasing-in up to $13.50.  Starting January 1, 2018, no employee at St. Peter Hospital who works in a union service position will receive less than the $15/hour minimum.

“We won huge strides forward for security—in our health benefits, in our time off, and in our jobs,” said Randi Lumbert, a Health Unit Coordinator.  “Having this union contract means peace of mind for my family.”

Among the new standards are agreements that Providence will not unilaterally change health benefits or vacation time accrual and usage policies.  It also increases protections for workers should layoffs be necessary.

“When workers stand together in our union, we win,” said Kristine Woodall, a Cafeteria Lead and bargaining team member.  “We are proof that working together works!”

Members had been bargaining to reach this new agreement for more than a year and participated in an informational picket in spring.  The new agreement will expire in 2020.

August 2nd, 2017

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kadlec-victory-2-lowresMore than 800 nursing assistants, radiology techs, dietary and housekeeping staff, certified surgical technologists, and more at Kadlec Regional Medical Center voted on April 19-20 to unite in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the statewide union of nearly 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers.  The caregivers cited the impact of Providence’s takeover of their facility and the need for a voice in staffing, wages, and benefits as driving the decision to form a union.

“In the 20 plus years I’ve been a mammography tech I’ve tried to treat all my patients and co-workers with kindness and respect,” said Bertha Montes, a Lead Mammography Technologist. “Over the last few months I’ve given my time and part of myself to help form this union. I believe that when we come together we can have a positive influence on the community, each other, and our patients.”

The workers have been forming their union for more than six months.  A committee of worker-volunteer organizers talked with their coworkers about the need for a voice in our changing healthcare industry.  Employees are looking forward to making improvements.  The vote was decisive with a large 422 to 297 voting in favor of the union.

“I have such a rewarding job, get to witness new life come in to this world and have the opportunity to take care of the mothers and newborns of this community,” said Rachel Luna, an OB Tech from the Birth Center.  “The work we do at our community hospital isn’t easy and we want to be treated with respect.  I stood up with my co-workers and team to form a union at Kadlec because I’m ready to move forward. We’ve seen changes in recent years that didn’t work for staff and patients and now we will have all come together for positive change.

The caregivers join the more than 17,000 other SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members working at Providence facilities including St. Peter in Olympia, St. Joseph in Chewelah, Home Health Care and Hospice of Snohomish County, SoundHomeCare and Hospice of Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties, and Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

The caregivers will now identify bargaining priorities and elect a bargaining committee to negotiate a first contract.

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May 8th, 2017

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Nurses and healthcare workers know that everyone needs affordable access to care, regardless of age, income, race, pre-existing conditions, immigration status, or any other reason.  That’s why we’re speaking out against the AHCA and in favor of health care for all.

Nurses Sylvia Keller, from Yakima, and Shawn Reed, from Spokane, spoke out in columns in their local papers this weekend – read more!

Spokesman-Review: Don’t Roll Back Progress on Healthcare

Yakima Herald: Listen to patients, nurses: Protect our care

We will continue standing up and speaking out for our patients until we have quality, affordable healthcare for all.

May 7th, 2017

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victory-photoHealthcare workers are stronger together!  SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is proud to welcome the more than 300 MAs, PSRs, Lab Techs, Rad Techs, Nutritionists, RNs, and more from UW Neighborhood Clinics who voted overwhelmingly to unite with us this week.  The caregivers from 12 clinics came together to form their union for a voice on the job and improvements in staffing and recruitment and retention.

“With this win, we’ve made it clear that we want to make UW Neighborhood Clinics a better place,” said  Joseph Pa, a Radiologic Technologist at the UW Neighborhood Clinics Ravenna. “We came together across 12 different clinics and now we can have a seat at the table and be part of the decisions that affect us, our families and our patients.”

The caregivers voted nearly 2-to-1 in favor of uniting in one strong union to negotiate improvements with UW Medicine.  They join the more than 2,500 other SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members at UW Medicine Harborview Medical Center, UW Medicine Northwest Hospital, and UW Medicine Valley Medical Center.

“I am ecstatic that the union election was successful,” said  Hannah Vancitters, a PSR Lead at the Woodinville clinic. “Our victory demonstrates what we are capable of when we unite for a common goal. Winning this election by such a large margin gives me hope for the future of our network and reassures me that we can come together to build a strong contract that will truly support our needs at every level.”

The caregivers will now identify bargaining priorities and elect a bargaining committee to negotiate a first contract.

March 24th, 2017

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Trump’s Muslim Ban, which is proving to have immediate discriminatory effects ranging from tearing families apart, locking dual citizens out of their home nation, and even forcing children to remain in war zones, is an outrage and an insult to the values that we as Americans hold dear.

We are a nation of immigrants and we are a nation rooted in a belief that discrimination is wrong.

Barring refugees fleeing war and persecution – including wars our nation instigated in some cases—is unconscionable.  We know that when we denied Jewish refugees entry at the beginning of World War 2, they were forced to return to the nations they fled, and they were murdered.  Today is no different.

And discriminating on the basis of religion is illegal, immoral, and outrageous.

Among the members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW are countless immigrants and refugees, green card holders and legal permanent residents, who care for our community’s patients and mental health clients every day.  Trump’s order means these caregivers face travel bans, could be unable to reunite with families, and will face more hate and discrimination in our community.

We will not be silent.  We will stand up for our refugee and immigrant communities and take action on the streets, in the halls of Congress, and at the ballot box to demand better.  America must return to being a nation of conscience.

January 29th, 2017

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Our country is divided – by ideology, by class, by race, by an urban/rural divide, and in many, many other ways.  These divisions have been destructive to working people.  Division is a tactic management uses to try keep us from improving standards. And now under a new national administration that’s driven by corporate and management thinking, laws may change that both impact the structures that help our union be strong and impact the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

IMG_3106We have overcome management efforts to divide us and we can overcome this new threat.

Through our union, we can heal the divisions that exist within our membership, our families, and our communities. And through our unity we can have a strong union.

Our first step is to show up for a week of action to voice our objection to proposals that would make our nation less safe, less healthy, and more unjust.

SEATTLE:

 

Saturday, January 21: Women’s March on Seattle.  10:30am, meet up at WSLC at 16th & Jackson.  On-site contact: Robin Wyss, 206-390-7225

BELLINGHAM:

Saturday, January 21: Women’s March on Bellingham.  9am meetup at the union office for sign making, 1700 N State #101.  Contact Lane

Sunday, January 22: Don’t Mourn, Organize Forum, more info coming.

 

SPOKANE:

 

Saturday, January 21: Women’s March on Spokane. 11am-3pm, Convention Center, 334 West Spokane Falls Blvd. On-site contact: Blair Anundson, 509-944-0829.

YAKIMA:

Saturday, January 21: Women’s March on Yakima.  10am the March will begin at the intersection of North 2nd Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, proceeding east on MLK, JR. Blvd. and turning right on North 8th Street to Yakima Avenue. Marchers will continue west on Yakima Avenue, turning north onto North 2nd Street, completing a one and one-half mile loop.  On-site contact: Raul Lopez, 509-731-2861.

Come in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW purple!    Talk to your organizer or Executive Board member for more information.  Text or call the 1199NW contact to find us in the crowd.

Can’t make it but want to hear more about how we can stand up together?  Sign up for our urgent action email list at our website, www.seiu1199nw.org.

January 7th, 2017

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