Unfair labor practice strike called for June 1-3 after 19 months of bargaining
KALISPELL—After more than a year and a half at the bargaining table calling on Kalispell Regional Healthcare/Logan Health to invest in patient care, the 650 nurses in the clinics, hospital, long-term care facility, behavioral health and home care and hospice gave notice today that, unless Logan Health bargains in good faith for an agreement that invests in care and jobs, they have no choice but to hold an unfair labor practice strike, June 1-3.
“A strike is the last thing we want to do, but Logan Health has been unwilling to listen to our voices,” said Donna Nelson, RN in Behavioral Health and a member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “We’re here for our patients, and that means taking action to hold Logan Health administration accountable to patient needs and to bargaining in good faith.”
The nurses, who organized their union in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW in July 2019, are calling for increased staffing; reinstating the charge nurse on every unit so nurses are supported in taking care of patients; a nurse staffing committee to give nurses a voice in staffing decisions throughout KRH/Logan Health; and improvements to wages and benefits that will recruit and retain nurses to stay and work in the Flathead Valley. While administrators at Logan Health say they do not have the resources to make these investments in frontline staff, they have put time and money into acquiring new facilities and launching an expensive rebranding initiative.
“Our work caring for the Flathead Valley community is what makes Logan Health a great hospital,” said Sue Sweigart, RN at The Health Center and a member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “But if our wages stay behind every other major Montana hospital, many of us will have to find different work in order to support our families. That hurts our patients.”
Logan Health management has engaged in a campaign of union-busting activity and has refused to bargain in good faith. Nurses say they have experienced retaliation for union organizing, endured intimidation tactics and illegal limits on permitted speech, and that management has stalled at the bargaining table by refusing to respond to the nurses’ proposals and information requests, among other tactics. These practices are illegal under federal labor law, and the union has filed multiple unfair labor practice charges on the nurses’ behalf.
Nurses have already participated in a car caravan, an informational picket, petition gathering, and other actions in their ongoing effort to come to a resolution that puts patient care first. The nurses will continue to remain available to bargain throughout the month of May, with the goal of reaching agreement on a fair union contract and averting a strike.
About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 32,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and western Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.