Caregivers say MultiCare is below community standards on recruiting, retaining quality staff
View photos from the rally: https://1199nw.org/2T4nSYB
SPOKANE AND SPOKANE VALLEY—MultiCare pays caregivers at Deaconess and Valley Hospitals less than other area hospitals, wants to make it easier to send workers home without pay, and has refused to adopt sensible proposals for meal and rest breaks. In fact, the wage scale for some job classes includes steps that fall below the state minimum wage. That is why 1,300 nurses, radiologic techs, surgical techs, nursing assistants, housekeepers, food service workers and other healthcare workers united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW rallied at their hospitals Wednesday, calling attention to the need to bring Deaconess and Valley Hospitals up to area standards to ensure ongoing quality care.
“I’m tired of feeling disrespected when I’m doing direct patient care and putting myself and my coworkers at risk of COVID-19,” said Jenel Gaines-McGee, a nursing assistant with 26 years of service at Deaconess Hospital. “We sacrifice our lives for others, and yet I have to apply for assistance for healthcare because my current insurance coverage is not adequate for my family. When management does not respect our sacrifice, it’s very disappointing.”
The nurses and healthcare workers have been negotiating a new contract since November 2020. Each year over the last three years, 20% of caregivers at both Deaconess and Valley left to work elsewhere. Caregivers cite missed breaks and stagnating wages as factors in high turnover and are demanding that MultiCare do better for the Spokane community.
Caregivers have also raised concerns about MultiCare’s commitment to Spokane, noting that MultiCare’s board of directors does not include a single representative from Eastern Washington. And MultiCare has continued to invest in the west side of the state, with the acquisition of for-profit Capital Medical Center in December 2020, and the announcement of a $300 million project to build a new children’s hospital in Tacoma last summer. As of December 30, 2020, MultiCare Health System had $3.1 billion cash and cash equivalents with 343 days cash on hand, up from 275 in December 2019.
“These healthcare workers showed up every day throughout the pandemic to take care of this community, and this community recognizes that they are heroes,” said Jane Hopkins, RN, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “If MultiCare is truly a part of the Spokane community and truly believes these caregivers are heroes, they will do everything they can to be sure they have what they need to do the work. And we’re going to hold them to that.”
Caregivers and community members will continue the fight to hold MultiCare accountable to higher standards for jobs and care as negotiations continue.
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.