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Ready to form your union?

“A few years ago we saw that MAs were short staffed so we used our union voice to advocate for improvements. In the end we got 45 new positions added. No one clinic could have done that on their own; it took us all working together through our union to make it happen.”

Teri Lindsey, Medical Assistant, Kaiser Permanente – Bellevue


“After we won our union we took action together and it made a difference. Now PeaceHealth recognizes my hard work and my experience — my life is better now because I went from making $14.64/hour to making $21.87/hour!”

Savita Kashyap, CNA, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital, Bellingham

By standing together in our union, we have the power to win.

Improve Staffing
Nurses and caregivers standing together have the most powerful voice to take on a healthcare system that’s increasingly cutting back staffing while our patients get less and less of the care they need.  Together, we have won a strong voice in staffing decision making and real, concrete benchmarks for staffing that range from guaranteed staffing ratios to a process where we can call in additional staff when needed.  Our union voice means we can give each patient more of the attention they deserve.
Raise Our Wages
Uniting in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW means having a contract with guaranteed, predictable raises that are based on experience, not favoritism.  Our contracts include two raises a year—one across-the-board to keep up with the increasing cost of living and one step raise to recognize seniority and dedication.  Additionally, we get guaranteed premium pay that recognizes our sacrifices as on-call, night shift, weekend, or precepting workers. Our union voice means fair pay that invests in us and our skills and dedication.
Training and Education Funding
We have created an innovative partnership with many of our employers where we jointly control training funds and provide support for career advancement ranging from English language courses to computer courses to certification requirements to career counseling to funding for child care and book expenses.  Hundreds of nurses have advanced from ADN to BSN and beyond, hundreds of pros and techs have gotten our continuing ed requirements or licensure, and hundreds of dietary, housekeeping, and CNA caregivers have advanced to higher licenses and nursing degrees. Learn more about our training fund.
Health & Retirement Benefits
We stand together for quality, affordable healthcare benefits.  We’ve won contracts that lock in predictable health care costs with no price hikes for the duration of our contracts, we’ve won increased financial aid for caregivers unable to afford their care, and we’ve won discount cards that contribute hundreds of dollars per caregiver to our health expenses.  We also win predictable, stable investments in our retirement including higher matching contributions to our 401k funds.
Fairness on the Job

With a union contract, we have a process for filing a grievance against our employer for violating our contract or disrespecting us or our rights.  And should our employer discipline us, we have the right to a fair hearing with a union delegate present to make our side heard. We also have clear, fair processes for everything from vacation requests to working holidays.

Other Member Benefits
Through our international union, SEIU, we have a comprehensive member benefit program that includes discounts on everything from dental care to car insurance to movie passes.  Learn more about SEIU Member Benefits.

“Together we have won a paid skills day plus 40 paid hours per year for continuing ed and training.  Each of us has access to $800 for conferences and advancing our degrees.  We stood together and now management knows that through investing in us, they are investing in the best patient care.”

Linda Wilson, Respiratory Therapist, Harborview Medical Center

How to form a union in your workplace

Hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers have decided that to make sure we are heard on the job, we need to speak with a united voice. To do that, we’ve formed a union — an independent organization created by employees to advocate for our common interests.

Questions about joining? Email or call our new organizing team, 425-336-5854.

Three Steps to Forming a Union:

1. We identify the changes we want to make and talk to our coworkers about forming our union.

2. After a strong majority of us sign a petition or card saying we'll vote yes for the union, we schedule a union election.  

3. We form our union and begin to negotiate to improve pay, benefits, and other work issues.


Why should we join SEIU Healthcare 1199NW?

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is Washington state’s strongest healthcare union with more than 30,000 healthcare workers standing together for quality care and quality careers. Together we have the strength to improve our jobs and the care we give. Read more about the benefits of membership.

How do we form a union?

Forming a union starts with talking to your co-workers about it.  Contact our new organizing team, 425-336-5854, to get some help and tips, and find more information here.  

How do we negotiate a contract?

Negotiating a contract is a participatory, democratic process — all of us have a role to play.

We elect a team of co-workers from across the facility to represent us in negotiations with management. The team puts together a bargaining proposal based on input from surveys and meetings with employees across the hospital or clinic.

The bargaining team — with support from legal and negotiating experts from the union — meets with management over a period of time to reach an agreement on the issues.

We, the union members, then have the final say. Once we reach a tentative agreement with management, we have a chance to review it and ask questions. Then we hold a vote — no contract can be accepted unless a majority of our co-workers vote to approve.

What kinds of improvements have healthcare workers won by joining together in a union?

Having a real voice has allowed thousands of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members to make our jobs better: improved wages, real job security, stable benefits, a voice for better staffing. Read more about the benefits of being a member.

Other than negotiating a contract, how else do SEIU Healthcare 1199NW workers gain a voice on the job?

Having a union allows healthcare workers to create new avenues of communication between us, the employees, and management, like:

Union-management committees. Most contracts create committees that allow employees to sit down with management to solve problems as they come up. Many contracts set up special committees that focus on a particular issue — such as staffing —  that we want to have an ongoing voice about.

A fair system for resolving differences. Our contracts also create a “grievance procedure” where an employee who has a disagreement with a management decision can turn to an appeal process. 

Who is SEIU?

SEIU is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in improving the lives of workers and our families and creating a more just and humane society. Find more information on SEIU’s website.

How much are dues? What do they pay for?

Dues pay the costs of building an effective organization including our education and training programs, negotiating expenses, newsletters, office expenses, and salaries for officers and a full-time staff who provide research, organizing, communications, and legal support for the union.

Dues are 1.8 percent of your base monthly pay, $18 for every $1,000 earned. From 2024-2027 the monthly maximum of $90 will increase in $25-dollar increments each year until it is retired in July 2027.

Employees don’t pay dues until coworkers have negotiated and a majority of co-workers have voted to approve their first contract.

Dues cannot be increased unless a majority votes to approve a change.

Who makes the decisions in the union?

The members do. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is run by members through a strong democratic process. Members elect our own worksite leaders, a union-wide executive board, and our local union officers. We vote to approve our contracts, our dues structure, and all other major decisions in our organization.

What is the advantage of having many types of healthcare employees in one organization?

Most healthcare jobs are team-based and patient care quality improves when every part of the team is strong. Cutbacks and staffing shortages in one department or job classification can ripple across the facility and weaken care and services for patients in other units. It’s important that we all speak with a united voice about our problems and concerns.

Having a united organization for everyone allows employees to make sure that every part of the patient care team has a voice in making decisions about the future of their facility.

How will management react if we try to form a union?

Most employers are used to having the power to make decisions without employee input. It’s typical for employers to be hesitant about opening up decision-making to employee involvement.

But it’s important to remember that forming a union will improve patient care and employee-management relations in the long run. Every employee has the right to help form a union. Ultimately, the decision about forming a union is made by employees, not managers.

How can I give feedback about the care I received from an SEIU Healthcare 1199NW member?

As a healthcare workers' and nurses' union, we put patient care first.  Feedback about care you received is best directed to the hospital, clinic, facility, or institution where you received your care.

If you have complaints of a serious nature about care deficiencies we encourage you to file a complaint with the Washington State Department of Health.

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