The springtime brought with it big contract wins and legislative victories for WA’s healthcare workers! Read on to see how we’ve been ringing in the sunshine.
Last month, healthcare workers at Community Health Care Clinics across Pierce County officially ratified a new contract that will recruit and retain staff and improve patient care. We won across-the-board wage increases and market adjustments, improved education benefits, and commitments to foster in CHC a culture of safety and belonging for everyone. Our unity and willingness to show up for each other turned our vision for our workplace into reality.
Next, we officially ratified our wage reopener agreement at Valley Medical Center in Renton! After bargaining our new wages in two phases, everyone, in every job class, won an across-the-board wage increase of at least 8.5%, plus additional market-based increases and improved premiums and differentials. Throughout the process, we stood united and took action together, and it paid off.
The end of April also brought the end to the 2023 Legislative Session, and the passing of our WA Safe + Healthy bill for safe staffing. This new law, signed into effect by Governor Inslee last week, will strengthen accountability to hospital staffing plans set by staffing committees, eliminate CEO veto power our plans, expand our staffing committees to include other direct patient care staff in addition to RNs, and more! The work isn’t done, but this hard-fought victory won in coalition with UFCW 3000 and WNSA is a huge step towards safer staffing in WA.
Another huge legislative victory for workers is Workplace Safety and Injury Protections, which allows L&I to regulate musculoskeletal injuries so that we can prevent these injuries, rather than just treating them once they happen. This push was lead by our EVS coworkers, and after two years, the bill passed! Finally, other wins include state behavioral health funding, healthcare workforce development, and progress on affordable housing.
That’s a wrap on 2023 Session, and looking back, there’s so much to be proud of because of our unity and persistence.
In other political news, King County voters passed a special-election levy that will expand behavioral health resources for our communities. Prop 1 will establish five walk-in crisis care centers (including one dedicated to youth), maintain and restore residential treatment beds, and offer immediate on-site crisis support and short-term behavioral health treatment. As healthcare workers, and especially behavioral health workers, we know how badly these resources are needed.