The Stand

Judge blocks Olympic nurses’ ULP strike

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PORT ANGELES (Aug. 3 update) — At the request of Olympic Medical Center management, a Kitsap County Superior Court judge issued an injunction Wednesday to block an Aug. 11 strike at the Port Angeles hospital. In response, the following statement was issued by Linda Bryant, a nurse at Olympic Medical Center:

The union intends to comply with Judge Haberly’s temporary restraining order issued today in enjoining OMC members from proceeding with the August 11, 2011 strike.

We disagree with the judge’s order and think it does not recognize our rights to stand for quality care for all families.

Our primary goal has always been to settle a fair contract and ensure healthcare access for everyone. We return to the bargaining table tomorrow with the mediator and we will be at the table for as long as it takes to resolve issues of affordable family healthcare and guaranteed staffing minimums that we believe will keep our patients safe.

We expect hospital management to come to the bargaining table prepared and ready to reach a fair agreement. We could have reached a settlement a long time ago if management had been as resolved to settle a fair contract as they are determined to thwart the rights of nurses and healthcare workers.

We thank the community for their continued support of our work to protect quality healthcare.


PORT ANGELES (Aug. 2) — Nurses and healthcare workers at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles have given notice to management that they are planning an unfair labor practice strike for one day on Friday, Aug. 11 to protest bad faith bargaining, steep cuts to healthcare benefits and management’s refusal to guarantee safe levels of nurse staffing for patients.

 

Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume on Thursday, Aug. 4. The nurses and healthcare workers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, are hopeful of reaching an agreement that will avert the one day unfair labor practice strike.

“Our focus is providing high-quality healthcare,” said Jeanna Hutton, RN, Critical Care Unit. “We’d much rather settle a fair contract than go on strike. But we need a contract that lets us keep our families healthy, and guarantees that we have enough staff in place to care for our patients.”

More than 50 nurses and healthcare workers attended the Board of Commissioners meeting last week to ask the commissioners to work to settle the contract fairly. Olympic has proposed healthcare increases which would make healthcare unaffordable for employees and their children. For many employees, the proposed healthcare increases would be equivalent to a 10% pay cut.

“Olympic’s commitment to providing quality healthcare in our community should extend to its nurses and other employees,” said Delta Shore, Dietary. “Their proposed increases mean my kids will lose their health insurance.”

Olympic management has also refused to guarantee minimum staffing levels of nurses and other caregivers that union members believe are necessary to provide safe, quality patient care.

“As nurses, we have a serious commitment to patient safety in our hospital, and that’s why we’re standing up for guaranteed staffing levels to ensure patient safety. We want to make sure that patients don’t have to wait to get the care they need,” said Linda Bryant, RN, Operating Room. “We’d like the hospital to make the same commitment to staffing. They can afford to invest in patient care and work with us at the bargaining table to make our patients a top priority.”

More than 300 nurses and healthcare workers at Olympic Medical Center are represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, including RNs, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, ER techs, dietary workers, and housekeeping staff, among others. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents 22,000 nurses, healthcare employees, and mental health workers in hospitals, agencies, and clinics statewide.

For more information, visit www.seiu1199nw.org or contact Linnae Riesen at 425-306-2061.

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