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MEDIA ADVISORY: Jan. 21, 2020

Amy Clark
(425) 306-2061

Dave Bates
(347) 865-8038

Healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW to issue report card on risks to patients and workers at Swedish-Providence in advance of Jan. 28-30 strike

WHO: Environmental services (housekeeping) workers from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish Medical Center and community allies
WHAT: Press conference to deliver report card on patient safety, worker safety, and racial and gender justice at the front line of infection control at Swedish-Providence
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Boylston Place Park, 815 Broadway, Seattle

SEATTLE—Workers at the front line of infection control at Swedish Medical Center are sounding the alarm about patient safety, worker safety and systemic discrimination at a Jan. 22 press event.

Up to 50% of all hospital-acquired infections result from the care setting. Environmental Services, or EVS, workers are responsible for keeping hospital facilities clean and free from infection. But while Swedish-Providence has increased the number of beds in its hospital facilities by 10%[1], since 2015, it has maintained the same number of EVS workers, resulting in dangerously high workloads for EVS technicians.  Over that same time period, Swedish has had high rates of hospital-acquired infection and disturbing reports from the state Department of Health.

At the press conference, healthcare workers from the EVS department will present a report card on patient safety, worker safety and racial and gender justice. In addition to glaring safety issues, EVS technicians say their department faces significant discrimination in the form of unequal pay across gender and race.

Since bargaining began in April, nurses and caregivers from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish-Providence have presented management with a robust package of contract proposals that lay out a roadmap for success in safe staffing, including in EVS. Caregivers’ EVS proposal includes provisions for workplace safety, light duty for injured EVS technicians, and using trained professional exterminators to treat cases of bed bugs.

Nurses and healthcare workers recently declared their intent to hold an unfair labor practice strike Jan. 28-30 barring new proposals from management that adequately address patient safety and staffing concerns. Caregivers are taking on a multi-state system with a corporate-wide strategy to cut benefits for health care workers that has been found by federal officials to have unlawfully terminated workers in retaliation for protected union activity. Providence is a $24 billion corporation that sits on an $11 billion cash reserve. The corporation can afford to provide good benefits and wages to the nurses and healthcare workers it employs and should start treating its employees fairly. When employees of Providence are treated fairly, patient care and safety will improve.


SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 30,000 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. 

[1] WA DOH EOY reports

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