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Sunday, May 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sacred Heart nurses ratify contract, ending monthslong negotiating session

Unionized nurses at Sacred Heart Medical Center, represented by the Washington State Nurses Association, officially ratified their contract on Thursday, ending more than a year of negotiations with Providence officials.

Bargaining members of the Washington State Nurses Association, which represents the hospital’s nurses, fought off proposed changes to paid time off and earned illness benefits by Providence in the new contract, which runs through 2022. They also won seats at the table on committees to address staffing and safety at the second-largest hospital in the state.

Providence officials praised the new contract.

“The new contract provides a strong foundation on which the hospitals and our nurses can work together, and will help Providence attract and retain the best people. We look forward to continuing our Mission to serve our community together,” a statement from Providence officials said.

Another set of unionized health care workers at Sacred Heart Medical Center voted on contract ratification on Thursday, but results were not available Friday at press time.

The tentative agreement negotiated on behalf of those workers by the United Food and Commercial Workers 21 also preserves paid and sick leave benefits at most Providence locations and also includes wage increases, a release from the union says. Workers at Holy Family Hospital, also represented by UFCW 21, voted on their contract on Friday. UFCW 21 will release results of both votes together.

WSNA, UFCW 21 and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW had worked together on a potential strike in the waning days of 2019, but WSNA and UFCW 21 bargaining units reached resolutions after marathon bargaining sessions in Spokane.

Nearly 8,000 nurses and health care workers at several Swedish hospital locations in the Seattle-area, represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, have not reached an agreement, however, and the union announced its intent to strike on Friday. The union will hold a three-day strike from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31. Negotiations with Swedish officials are focused on staffing and wage increases.

“After careful consideration of every proposal exchanged between Swedish-Providence management and nurses and healthcare workers, the bargaining team of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW has concluded that the parties are too far apart,” a release from the union said.

Swedish has contracted with agencies to supplement the non-striking workforce, a release from Swedish said.

“In keeping with our mission, our community can count on us to continue providing the high-quality, safe, compassionate care that our patients expect and deserve,” CEO Guy Hudson said in a press release. “The union’s actions will not distract from our focus on serving patients and their loved ones who rely on us.”

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