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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New Multicare Deaconess and Valley hospital contract ratified; up to 25% wage increase coming for some workers

Callie Allen, a nurse at MultiCare Valley Hospital, is a SEIU union member who helped negotiate the recent labor contract with MultiCare. Allen’s SEIU chapter represents many different professions within the hospital.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Newly ratified by more than 1,400 health care workers at Deaconess and Valley hospitals, the new MultiCare contract includes up to a 25% wage increase for some workers.

The new contract was negotiated while under the threat of a strike, which at one point was set to come as early as next week. Instead, the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union struck a deal with the hospital system late last week. The contract will be in place through December 2026.

SEIU Healthcare President Jane Hopkins said the new contract brings the two MultiCare facilities “at or above” the market rate for other health care workers in the area, like those at Providence Sacred Heart.

“This historic contract will go a long way toward making sure we can attract dedicated and passionate staff, and it will incentivize MultiCare’s long-time experienced employees to continue working in their Spokane community. We are proud to say that with our union’s persistence and solidarity, workers placed enough pressure on MultiCare to bring serious proposals to the table and avert an unfair labor practice strike with a strong agreement,” Hopkinds said.

MultiCare said in a statement the hospital system is “pleased” its employees ratified the tentative agreement.

“MultiCare is invested in supporting our employees as they continue to provide the exceptional patient care the Inland Northwest has come to expect from Deaconess and Valley Hospitals,” spokesperson Kevin Maloney wrote in a statement.

The union is made up of approximately 1,400 workers between the two hospitals. These primarily include tech workers and service workers. Nurses at Valley Hospital are also included in the union. Each of these three types of jobs received wage increases.

  • Nurses in the bargaining unit received a 13% wage increase in the new contract. This joins a 12% increase negotiated mid-contract in April last year. Valley nurses will now also receive premium pay of $4 an hour for evening, night, weekend and on-call work.
  • Tech workers will receive a 16-18.5% wage increase and a premium pay bump of $3.75 an hour. Some classes of tech workers will also receive a 2.5% market adjustment to bring their pay up to the market rate in Eastern Washington.
  • Service workers will receive between a 17 and 25.5% across-the-board wage increase. Some job classes will also receive between a 2.25 and 8.25% increase.

Valley Hospital labor and delivery nurse and contract negotiation team member Callie Allen said these increases were necessary to bring workers up to the industry standard set by wage increases seen at Providence Health last year. Being paid less than these nearby institutions caused MultiCare to “hemorrhage” nurses and other hospital employees.

“Nobody in the union is looking to make a million dollars. We do what we do because we have a passion for people and we’re in the business of healing versus health care corporations, who are in it for the business of health care,” Allen said.

Another notable provision in the contract is a new minimum of three hours’ pay for being on call.

“Being on call is not something that’s easy,” Allen said. “You have to potentially arrange child care or rearrange things in your life to accommodate a shift that may or may not happen. Three-hour callback was a big win in this contract.”

The contract also retains a “hometown discount” allowing MultiCare employees and their families to receive health care at a lower cost at the hospital at which they work. According to the union, MultiCare had proposed to get rid of the incentive.

Negotiations for a new contract began in August and have included nearly two dozen bargaining sessions. According to Allen, as negotiations stalled last Wednesday, the union submitted its intent to strike beginning April 7. But by the end of Friday, after 50 hours of negotiation that week, the two parties had reached a deal, and a strike was averted.

According to the union, the contract was “overwhelmingly” approved by workers, but representatives did not provide the percentage of workers in the bargaining unit who voted in favor.

Asked if there were any terms they did not get in the negotiation, Allen pointed out that the wage increases will not be retroactively applied to the beginning of the year. Last year’s contract was extended several times as negotiations continued, and workers did not see January wage increases they may have been expecting. The union hoped that once a contract was reached, it would apply to the first three months of the year retroactively.

Despite celebrations over the newly won contract, Hopkins warned the drawn-out fight was evidence of MultiCare dragging its feet to match the market rate of the region.

“This contract is good, but they should always be leading a community. MultiCare came into Spokane, came into Eastern Washington. They need to bring in standards and not be trying to catch up with other area hospitals or area health care facilities,” she said. “We’re going to push every employer to pay people what they deserve.”