The most recent stories from across our union.
When healthcare and mental health caregivers unite and take action, we have the power to make our facilities prioritize patient and client care. In 2015, more than 15,000 members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargained new contracts with some of the biggest health systems in our region—Swedish-Providence, UW Medicine, CHI Franciscan, and more. Through our unity and action we showed the true union difference. We stopped management-proposed cuts to our healthcare or retirement security and advanced new standards for quality care and good jobs in our community.
We could not have won these improvements without the support of our community. We shared with you the challenge of raising standards and protecting patients in our community when decisions at sine health systems are being made by out-of-town executives, but your support has helped us build one united voice for high standards at our community hospitals. From pickets to bargaining team meetings, you have stood with us and now we celebrate this victory together.
More than 7,000 nurses and healthcare workers at Swedish-Providence campuses in Seattle, Redmond, Edmonds, and Issaquah stood together to raise the bar for quality care at Swedish. After thousands of us picketed on July 1, we were able to make huge strides for quality care and good jobs that included:
See the new Swedish-Providence contracts here.
At Harborview, Valey Medical Center, and Northwest Hospital, more than 4,600 nurses and healthcare workers stood up for improvements to our jobs and the care we give. Our unified strength in advocating for our patients and families allowed us to enhance patient safety and improve industry standards.
The Harborview Medical Center contracts are still being signed and printed – when ready, they will be posted here.
At Valley Medical Center, we won:
See the new Valley Medical Center contracts here.
At Northwest Hospital, we won:
The Northwest Hospital contracts are still being signed and printed – when ready, they will be posted here.
At CHI Franciscan – Highline Medical Center and Regional Hospital in Burien, more than 700 nurses and healthcare workers stood up against the giant national CHI system and won higher standards for our community hospitals. Through our unity and action, we advanced the quality of care and jobs in our community.
Our UW Medicine- Harborview Medical Center bargaining team, nurses and healthcare care workers united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, reached a contract agreement with management last week that will bring significant improvements to our Harborview community.
Our unified strength in advocating for our patients and families allowed us to enhance patient safety and improve industry standards. The new contract includes:
By standing together not only did we prevent any takeaways, but we took critical steps forward for quality healthcare and an improved work environment.
We thank our community supporters for your commitment to nurses, healthcare workers, our patients, and our community during this bargaining effort. Standing in solidarity with us as we worked to show how seriously we take patient care and Harborview’s mission was vital for our morale during a challenging time.
Together we showed what we can achieve for our community when we stand together as healthcare advocates. We look forward to continuing working together!
You can find our new Harborview contracts here.
The more than 2,000 Group Health nurses and healthcare workers, after meeting with Kaiser Permanente’s CEO and executives and deliberating deeply, is announcing today its endorsement of the proposed Kaiser Permanente acquisition.
“In this era of unprecedented healthcare consolidation, we are glad Group Health is taking proactive steps to protect care delivery into the future,” said Diane Sosne, RN, MN, President of the 28,000-member SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and a former Group Health Nurse. “We also know that Kaiser Permanente shares GHC’s dedication to smart, value-based, patient-focused health care delivery and brings a track record of outstanding respect and value for front-line caregivers’ expertise and ideas.”
Member-leaders and officers from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW met directly with Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson and other executives in mid-January to hear from them what their plans were for Group Health. The two-hour conversation revealed to the nurses and healthcare workers that Kaiser Permanente has a lot in common with Group Health. Kaiser Permanente also has an innovative labor-management partnership that has fostered breakthroughs in quality care for Kaiser Permanente and has improved the practices and professions of nurses and healthcare workers.
“Kaiser Permanente has an excellent reputation for collaborating with caregivers,” said Nany Wittman, a nurse from the Group Health Consulting Nurse Service. “Kaiser is a financially sound a non-profit and shares Group Health’s values. This is a great opportunity for our organization to grow for the first time in several years and share our vision for integrated healthcare with the Pacific Northwest.”
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW was founded by Group Health nurses who wanted to use their voices to improve staffing and jobs. The nurses and healthcare workers are urging all registered Group Health voters to support the acquisition and vote yes.
New Contract Will Mean Better Staffing, Affordable Health Benefits, Immediate $15/hour Minimum
SEATTLE- 7,000 Swedish Medical Center and Swedish-Edmonds nurses and healthcare workers, united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, are celebrating a new contract that will lead to better patient care, better recruitment and retention, and higher standards for King and Snohomish County hospitals and employers. The nurses, housekeepers, dietary staff, technicians, nursing assistants, and professional staff at Edmonds including pharmacy, social workers, and physical therapists ratified a new contract that guarantees a safe minimum staffing standard for patient care and immediately brings staff and new hires at Swedish campuses in King and Snohomish Counties to a $15/hour minimum wage.
“This contract means that Swedish will have the best standards for care and jobs in our region,” said Margie McInnis, a Sterile Processing Tech at Swedish’s First Hill campus. “Improving staffing, wages, and benefits means patients will have experienced, dedicated staff here when you need us. Our community stood with us for better jobs and better care and it made a huge difference- this is a win for all of us.”
Key features of the new contract include:
“Patients and staff deserve to have every effort made to ensure safe staffing. Our new contract lets charge nurses do our jobs by ensuring we have the authority to increase staffing when there is a patient care need,” said Bruce Berghegger, a Charge Nurse at Swedish-Ballard. “This is a big win for patient safety.”
The nurses and healthcare workers began bargaining in April, when Swedish management proposed significant cuts and take-aways. This galvanized the staff who then took part in unit- and hospital-based actions culminating in thousands of workers picketing on July 1. Since then, intensive negotiations have resulted in not just eliminating the cuts but moving forward for the quality of care and jobs. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members are looking forward to a new relationship with Swedish management that includes cooperative problem solving.
“Our unity and action is making Swedish a standard-setter for safe staffing and quality care,” said Carissa Masching, a Lead Imaging Tech at Swedish-Mill Creek. “Together our coworkers stood up, took action, and won for our patients, our communities, and ourselves. When we fight, we win!”
Nurses and healthcare workers at Harborview Medical Center, Valley Medical Center (Renton), Northwest Hospital, and Highline Medical Center continue to work without contracts as negotiations enter their seventh month.
Harborview nurses and healthcare workers called for staffing solutions that put patients first as they held an informational picket and rally outside the hospital with community leaders today.
“Harborview is our community’s safety net hospital, but right now they’re not acting like it,” said Rebecca Talbot Bluechel, RN. “Tired nurses can’t provide the safest care. I’m with my patients between life and death in the OR, with my hands holding their bodies together. Safety should come first, staffing should come first.”
Nurses and healthcare workers are calling for Harborview to address staffing concerns with an expansion of the successful break relief nurse program, which calls for dedicated nurse staffing to ensure patients always have access to the care they need and staff can safely take breaks, and a guarantee on maximum patient load to ensure patients aren’t “doubled up”, with an additional eye on safety for both staff and patients. The hospital has rejected those solutions.
Nurses and healthcare workers call these solutions the right approach for Harborview’s patients, instead of an approach by Harborview that workers call shortsighted.
Instead of addressing staffing solutions with more staff, the hospital proposes to continue “call shifts” for techs, which should be used for emergencies, but workers report are used to cover anticipated shortages or planned procedures. Many techs report working “on call” for up to a week, and some report working shifts of more than 24 hours at a time while managing critical patient cases.
The hospital intends to expand upon this practice with a proposal to roll out mandatory call for certain units of registered nurses, which would require nurses to work their full FTE and be “on call” additional hours, raising concerns that nurses would be working lengthy periods while fatigued.
Local lawmakers including King County Councilmembers joined workers in raising concerns.
“King County government owns this hospital and the ground on which it’s built. We need to do everything we can to hold UW Medicine accountable to running this hospital in a way that’s good for patients and healthy and accountable to its workers,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett.
Harborview Medical Center is owned by King County, governed by the Harborview Board of Trustees, and managed under contract by the University of Washington. The operating agreement between University of Washington and King County is up for renewal and currently being negotiated.
Nurses and healthcare workers picketed before and after their shifts and during breaks. The current contract expired June 30, 2015.
RENTON – Every patient should receive the best care, and it starts with the right number of staff, say nurses and healthcare workers at Valley Medical Center. Citing concerns that the hospital is denying improvements to staffing and care standards, the workers delivered notice to the hospital of their intent to stand up for care and join with community and elected leaders at an informational picket July 15.
“We struggle to have the staffing to effectively meet patient needs, whether it’s turning a patient every 2 hours or making sure they get up to walk,” said Wanda Gardner, a CNA at the hospital. “They should receive baths on time, and get to the bathroom when they need to go. When the call light goes on, we should be able to answer it. But when we’re short staffed we can’t get to every patient, and that’s why we’re standing up. It’s time for Valley to ensure quality care for every patient at our hospital.”
Currently nurses and healthcare workers have to double up on patient loads to cover co-workers for enough time to eat or take needed breaks. Workers proposed solutions including a guarantee on a maximum patient load and a standard for safe breaks, standards that would ensure patients aren’t “doubled up”, with an additional eye on safety for both staff and patients. The hospital has rejected those solutions.
“As frontline nurses we are patient advocates. We want to meet all of our patient needs, but we struggle to have the right staffing to do that. Patients need guaranteed staffing standards so patients will get what they need, in every unit of the hospital,” said Nance Moore, RN.
Workers will picket before and after their shift and during breaks. The current contract expired June 30, 2015.
Valley Medical Center (Public Hospital District No. One) serves Kent, Renton, two-thirds of Tukwila, and portions of Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Federal Way, Maple Valley, Newcastle and Seattle.
7,000 Nurses, Caregivers Picket for Better Care, Better Jobs at Swedish-Providence
SEATTLE – Swedish-Providence nurses and healthcare workers walked the picket line today to call for better staffing, better care, and better jobs. The 7,000 nurses and healthcare workers, united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, picketed several Swedish-Providence campuses today to call on Swedish-Providence, which made $110 million in profit last year, to fix staffing and invest more in front-line care.
“Patients pay Swedish-Providence to provide quality patient care, not to bank the money as profit or give it to CEOs in lavish salaries,” said Deanna Tregoning, a nurse at Swedish-Issaquah. “We’re out here today calling on Swedish and Providence to put care first and provide staffing that ensures no patient has to wait.”
The nurses, nursing assistants, dietary and housekeeping staff, unit coordinators, patient registrars, technical specialists, and more are bargaining a new contract for the first time since Swedish became part of Providence. When caregivers called on Swedish-Providence to create a maximum number of patients per nurse in order to ensure the highest quality of care, the hospital said no. And despite huge profits, Swedish is proposing to undermine standards for good jobs.
“Swedish used to be committed to providing the best care in our area, but saying no to staffing improvements and undermining standards for good jobs shows their priorities may have changed,” said Michael Scott, an Imaging Tech at Swedish-First Hill.
The picketing nurses and healthcare workers have received unprecedented community support, with the Mayor and a majority of the Seattle City Council standing with them along with key community organizations including the Church Council of Greater Seattle, OneAmerica, and others.
“King County’s growing immigrant and refugee communities should be able to expect high quality, culturally responsive care. At the same time, the medical profession is a rapidly growing slice of the economy, and has been an opportunity for residents in our region’s communities of color to find good paying jobs with good benefits,” said Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica. “The entire community, particularly immigrant and refugee communities, have a stake in how Swedish-Providence treats its workers.”
Our facilities are in the process of getting equipped, trained, and prepared for infectious diseases so we’re ready if a patient needs us. Whether it’s Ebola, Tuberculosis, or H1N1, we are here for our community and need to keep our patients and ourselves safe.
We’re working with facilities to make sure each facility has a plan for intake, isolation, and response. We know that it’s unlikely that any of our facilities will have Ebola patients and that if a patient with Ebola does present, that patient will be transferred to a national center as soon as possible.
We’re spreading the word about what Ebola is and what standards Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the CDC have for keeping us safe.
o Rigorous and repeated training on every aspect of infection control including donning and doffing PPE.
o No skin exposure while in PPE. This includes double-gloving with extended-cuff gloves, calf-height shoe covering, a face shield and surgical hood, respirator (N95 or PAPR), and an apron.
o A trained monitor to observe donning and doffing of PPE and ensure infection control.
o Disinfection prior to taking off PPE using an approved disinfectant.
Delegates and organizers will be working within each facility to determine how we can best protect our patients and ourselves. Talk to your organizer if you’re concerned about your facility’s preparation. More information is at the SEIU Ebola site or at www.cdc.gov
As healthcare workers, we are here to care for our patients when they need us. But we need the right plan, the right training, and the right equipment to keep our patients and ourselves safe at every facility.
Four questions nurses and healthcare workers should ask our facilities about Ebola
We are asking each of our facilities these questions and will work with employers to get plans in place and training in motion as fast as possible.
What are you seeing and what are your concerns in your facility? Share them here.
CDC recommendations for putting on and taking off Protective Personal Equipment Note that nurses and healthcare workers should practice putting on and taking off equipment.
Citing concerns over safety for both patients and staff, nurses at Western State Hospital held an informational picket and Eastern State nurses marched on DSHS Wednesday to call on Governor Inslee and CEOs Ron Adler and Dorothy Sawyer to address safety and staffing concerns.
Chronic staffing shortages and high turnover has nurses concerned that patients aren’t getting the care they need, and leave both patients and staff open to ongoing assaults and injuries.
“We care for the most vulnerable population. Recruiting and keeping qualified RNs with a commitment to the kind of work we do is essential in providing good and safe patient care. But we can’t do that when we keep losing staff and the state won’t make a commitment to invest in quality care,” said Barbara Shelman, an RN2 at Western State Hospital.
With nurse wages up to 18-19% below the market standards, many state nurses can’t afford to continue providing care at Western State Hospital, with a notable 25% turnover rate over two years among nurses. Eastern State Hospital has a 17.4% vacancy rate for the major nurse job classification.
“I was injured by a patient that resulted from unsafe staffing conditions due to high turnover and the inability to keep qualified nursing staff. RNs who work at Eastern State Hospital have a commitment to quality patient care that includes not only a safe environment for our patients but also our co-workers. We can’t continue to operate in the same manner we currently do. We need the state to make the same commitment to us as we do our patients,” said Sharon Silar, an RN2 at Eastern State Hospital.
Nurses called on state leaders to:
“It’s all too common that patients and staff are assaulted. I’ve been assaulted several times, as have my co-workers. Unsafe working conditions have resulted in permanent injuries and life-changing disabilities for some of my co-workers. This isn’t quality care for our patients, and it’s not safe for us. We know the answer: we need more staff to prevent this from happening, and we need to stop turnover,” said Linda Holbrook, an RN2 at Western State Hospital.
Nurses were joined by community and elected leaders including Rep. Tami Green, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. David Sawyer, candidates Tammey Newton, Christine Kilduff, Carl Williams, and Josh Arritola.