UPDATE (Nov. 13) — The following statement was issued Sunday afternoon on behalf of Emerita Espinoza, an Outreach Worker at Community Health Care and member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:
“The 150 healthcare workers and members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Community Health Care will not be going on strike Monday, November 14. Our primary goal continues to be settling a fair contract with Community Health Care that protects our families and the patients we serve. We will be returning to the bargaining table next week to continue negotiations with Community Health Care.”
TACOMA (Nov. 4) — Facing management’s continued refusal to negotiate and unaffordable healthcare increases, the healthcare workers of Community Health Care clinics today delivered notice of an open-ended unfair labor practice strike set to begin Monday, Nov. 14.
All union members and supporters are urged to join in pickets starting at 6:30 a.m. Monday at the following CHC locations:
TACOMA — CHC administrative offices, 101 E. 26th St.
TACOMA — Future clinic site, 1202 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
TACOMA (Downtown) — 1102 S. “I” St.
TACOMA (Eastside) — 1708 E. 44th St.
LAKEWOOD — 10510 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW
PARKLAND — 11225 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
SPANAWAY — 134 188th St. S.
The healthcare workers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, struck for two days in August over unaffordable healthcare increases and frozen wages. At that time, Community Health Care clinics had unilaterally imposed its contract terms effective July 1, including no progressive wage step increases and unaffordable healthcare increases that left many families unable to afford healthcare.
Since August, management at Community Health Care clinics has refused to meet with workers and open the agency’s books.
“I have a 7 year old and another baby on the way in January. These increases are too expensive for me to afford, and I’ll have to put my kids on state healthcare. I provide healthcare to families that can’t afford it every day at work, and now my family will be the ones needing help,” said Felisha Singleton, a dental assistant.
The healthcare workers have authorized an open ended unfair labor practice strike that will begin Monday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 a.m.
“Enough is enough,” said Outreach Worker Emerita Espinoza. “For months, Community Health Care has dictated the terms of our contract and hasn’t even met with us. We would rather be taking care of our patients than going on strike, but they have really left us with no choice, and no opportunity to work to reach an agreement.”
The healthcare workers made proposals in previous negotiations that would save Community Health Care money, including forgoing across-the-board wage increases for 5 years and adding 30 minutes to the work day without pay. The healthcare workers had previously accepted economic concessions on medical benefits to help the agency at a time when state budget cuts leave many healthcare programs in jeopardy.
“We’ve done our part in taking concessions and CHC continues to demand more without showing us the books and justifying their position. We continue to lose care for our families, and our patients experience more cuts,” said Barbara Goebel, an LPN. “We should be working with Community Health Care to fight against more cuts in Olympia, but instead Community Health Care is fighting with us.”
Community Health Care provides primary medical and dental care for patients in clinics in Tacoma, Lakewood, Spanaway, and Parkland.
More than 150 CHC healthcare workers are represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, including Medical Assistants, dental assistants, receptionists, interpreters, pharmacy techs, and others.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents 22,000 nurses, healthcare employees, and mental health workers in hospitals, agencies, and clinics statewide. Learn more at www.seiu1199nw.org.