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Tues., Nov. 26, 2019

Kenia Escobar, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW



Council urges Swedish parent company Providence St. Joseph Health to engage in fair bargaining and reach an agreement with workers to avoid strike

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council on Monday recognized the importance of nurses and workers at Swedish Medical Center and expressed robust support for workers’ right to strike with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 31917, sponsored by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. The workers, organized through SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, recently voted to authorize a strike if bargaining negotiations with Swedish-Providence continue to falter, and cite patient safety concerns among the reasons for the authorization.

Councilmember Bagshaw said she is especially appreciative of the work and expertise of healthcare workers and shared the personal connection that moved her to sponsor the resolution. Bagshaw’s aide Alyson Wright, whose son Aiden was born 15 weeks premature, has found solace in the compassionate, skillful care she and her son have received – and continue to receive – at Swedish Medical Center.

In addition to expressing strong support for the resolution, councilmembers urged Swedish parent company Providence St. Joseph Health to bargain in good faith, expeditiously reach an agreement to avoid putting the community at risk, and ensure the well-being of healthcare workers through fair wages and benefits.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who recently gave birth at Swedish, spoke passionately in support of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW workers while holding her infant daughter in her arms. “My support goes beyond my advocacy for labor unions,” the Councilmember said online. “Six weeks ago, my daughter was born at Swedish, thanks to the care, support and expertise of the care team. At Swedish, I experienced quality care with a medical team dedicated to our safety and needs. I also saw and heard of staff sacrificing their own basic needs to give us what we needed.”

Councilmember Kshama Sawant also spoke out in support of the resolution and expressed solidarity with healthcare workers. She vowed to march with workers when necessary, and called on Swedish-Providence to stop treating its workers “with a cavalier attitude.”

Community members and workers were given the opportunity to address the council prior to the vote. “It’s important that our community understands that we are in crisis, and that is why we are standing up for our patients,” said Ron Cole, a nurse at Swedish Medical Center for 21 years and member of the bargaining team. “We need contract commitments from Swedish-Providence for safe patient care. With the staffing cuts that Providence has made at Swedish, we believe that providing the best care in our city is no longer their top priority.”

Healthcare workers say that while they have voted to authorize a strike, their end goal is a fair contract, which they hope to achieve through continued talks. They have noted their readiness to negotiate in good faith and have called on Providence management to do its part to reach an agreement.


About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
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.

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