Swedish nurses, health care workers vote to strike

Union nurses and health care workers at Swedish Medical Center announced that they have voted Friday to authorize a strike.

Health care workers from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Washington State Nurses Association and UFCW 21 at Swedish Medical Center and other Providence-owned hospitals shared their concerns about patient care and working conditions at their facilities.

The three unions represent over 15,000 nurses and other health care workers across Washington State.

“Caregivers at Swedish-Providence believe the hospital has committed multiple unfair labor practices, such as termination of workers for union activity, retaliation for protected union activity, and a failure to provide information necessary for bargaining,” the union said in a release.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW's collective bargaining agreement with Swedish Medical Center expired June 30.
It was extended through the end of July. Bargaining has been ongoing since April, and workers picketed in August.

“Nurses and other health care workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW say they believe that providing the best quality care is no longer Swedish-Providence's top priority,” the union said.

In a statement to KIRO 7, Swedish responded, “We are disappointed that SEIU 1199NW is using a strike authorization vote to exert pressure on Swedish in the bargaining process. A strike would not only represent a step backwards in our negotiations but could prove disruptive to patients who count on us for their care.

Swedish has put a strong set of proposals on the table, including a new round of improvements on wages and benefits. We want to continue to bargain in good faith and to keep the federal mediators engaged to move the negotiations forward.

We are serious about reaching an agreement through bargaining and hope SEIU 1199NW shares our commitment to find solutions that work.”

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