PRESS RELEASE FOR: Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Healthcare workers at Cascade Behavioral Health return to work, end three-month safety strike after winning demands
Dozens of workers rally, walk in to work for the first time since a violent incident that left 11 injured
TUKWILA, WA — United in their determination to ensure better patient care and safety on the job, the healthcare workers at Cascade Behavioral Health who declared a safety strike in August returned to their facility on Monday, November 8, after securing a tentative agreement with Cascade, a 137-bed behavioral health facility owned by Acadia Healthcare.
Caregivers first began the safety strike in August after 11 staff members were injured, one of them severely, when a volatile patient escaped and wreaked havoc for hours throughout the facility, assaulting caregivers and patients and sending one staff member to the hospital on a stretcher. The incident came after management cut back on security, leaving other staff to deal with violent patients. Most of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW caregivers at Cascade are women, many of whom are immigrants and workers of color.
“We are pleased that Cascade and its parent company, Acadia Healthcare, have agreed to substantive movement on our demands which will bring major improvements to the core safety issues that forced us out on a safety strike back in August,” said Lidia Abushet, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Cascade. “This agreement is a resounding victory not just for the caregivers at Cascade, but for our patients, our community, and all workers fighting for safety and respect in their workplaces.”
“More than a half a million workers have been watching your fight, watching you stand strong – being inspired by your solidarity, by your clarity, and by your strength. It was because you all stood shoulder to shoulder, holding the line. You knew your worth, you knew your value and you didn’t back down. Your contract will ensure safety, not just for you, but for your patients,” said April Sims, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “I am beyond proud to march in with you all today and to support you as you go back into work, and you go back into serving your patients. Thank you so much for inspiring me and our labor movement.”
“United we are stronger, and we have won the most amazing contract with standards, by the way, not just for yourselves and your children and your families, but for the rest of the nation,” said Diane Sosne, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “Because we’re taking this story global – we’re taking it national.”
The three-year tentative agreement, which was reached Friday, November 5, addresses the workers’ core safety demands, including that Cascade hire dedicated security staff. Under this agreement, all frontline safety strikers will be guaranteed job protection and the right to return to work on Monday, November 8.
The agreement comes as a wave of strikes rocks industries across the nation, including a recent November 15 strike deadline for thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers across the Northwest.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members at Cascade Behavioral Health will vote to ratify the tentative agreements on Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 10. The tentative agreements cover 220 workers in three units: RNs, LPNs, mental health techs, and service workers.
COURTESY FOOTAGE: accessible at the link here
0:00-1:01 — Sara Moallin, RN
1:04-1:44 — Mandeep Grewal, RN
1:45-1:55 — Mender Misghina, RN
1:58-2:14 — Jane Hopkins, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
2:15-2:26 — Josie Avena, RN
2:28-2:45 — Diane Sosne, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
2:45-3:18 — April Sims, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Photo 1: Suggested Caption: Cascade behavioral healthcare workers embrace in celebration before returning to work after their 3.5 month safety strike
Photo 2: Suggested Caption: Cascade behavioral healthcare workers walk into work after securing a tentative agreement with their employer
Photo 3: Suggested Caption: Cascade behavioral healthcare workers rallied outside Cascade Behavioral Health before walking in after a 3.5 month safety 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 Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.