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Support Skagit Valley Hospital RNs on June 21

The Washington State Nurses Association, which represents more than 440 registered nurses at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, will hold an informational picket outside the hospital from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21 and is encouraging all union members and supporters of quality patient care to participate and show their support. Contract bargaining for these nurses have dragged out for months over nurses’ concerns about the ability to take uninterrupted rest breaks, drastic proposed wage cuts, and changes to overtime.

Over 250 rallied outside the county courthouse June 2 to support the Skagit Valley Hospital nurses.

More than 250 people attended a rally June 2 to highlight Skagit Valley Nurses’ concerns and 60 of the nurses took their case directly to the hospital’s Board of Commissioners. But hospital management refuses to budge, so the WSNA invites everyone in the labor community to come to Tuesday’s informational picket — and please wear blue!

Download the flier for Tuesday’s informational picket.

To protect patient and nurse safety, the nurses are demanding that the administration continue providing nurses with a 15-minute uninterrupted block of time for their rest breaks while the administration has proposed switching to intermittent breaks. The administration claims that brief interruptions in work activities, such as going to the bathroom, getting a sip of water, or talking with colleagues, should constitute a break.

“I’m constantly managing critical life and death situations for my patients. It requires focus and alertness throughout my entire shift. These meal breaks and rest breaks ensure that I get a chance to collect myself, recharge, and refocus.  It means I can be at my best when I’m caring for you or your family member,” said Christina Jepperson, a registered nurse at Skagit Valley Hospital.

Nurses also express concern about proposed wage cuts and the impact it would have on the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain nurses. The WSNA reports that, at virtually every pay level, management is proposing wage cuts, with experienced nurses seeing the worst of it. Skagit Valley Hospital is already paying nurses less than other hospitals in the region, such as United General Hospital. Changes to seniority and layoff language further devalue the dedication of nurses who have spent their careers caring for patients at Skagit Valley.

“The Washington State Nurses Association has negotiated contracts with all types of hospitals across this state. None of these negotiations have resulted in the sweeping policy changes and drastic wage cuts that Skagit Valley Hospital management is proposing. It’s truly unprecedented. With these proposals, the administration is saying they don’t recognize or respect the critical role registered nurses play in providing safe patient care,” said Christine Himmelsbach, MN, RN, Assistant Executive Director of Labor Relations for WSNA.

John Tweedy, a registered nurse at Skagit Valley Hospital and Chair of the bargaining unit, urged the public to get involved:

“Not only are you the tax payers that make this hospital go, but it may be you or your family member that seeks care at Skagit Valley Hospital.  We need your help to hold this administration accountable and to demand that Skagit Valley Hospital reflects the values of this community. That means respecting nurses, keeping the policies that help us do our job well, and giving us a fair contract.”

Learn more about this event and the WSNA at

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