The following press release was distributed by UFCW Local 21:
OLYMPIA (Sept. 21, 2012) — In one of the largest union elections in recent Washington State history, a massive majority of the over 900 nonprofessional employees of Skagit Regional Health (SRH) voted to be represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21. SRH is a northwest Washington public hospital and clinic system that is Skagit County’s largest employer. Ballots from the mail-in election were tallied in the Olympia offices of the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission on Thursday morning. SRH employees voted decisively for the union with more than 75% voting “yes.”
Skagit Regional Health employees observing the vote count were overjoyed.
“We’re looking for respect,” said Fred Barnum, who has worked for five years in the hospital’s materials management department. “We want fair treatment with wage scales, job security and seniority. “ In light of the overwhelming pro-union vote, Barnum and others urged the employer to move to contract negotiations without delay, and to bargain in good faith.
Workers began organizing earlier in the year, after contacting UFCW 21 for help with their concerns with their situation at SRH. As hospital and clinic employees came to know one another in the campaign, they built bonds that carried them to the decisive union vote.
“When we heard how they were being treated at the clinics, we were appalled, and knew we had to do something,“ said Shirley Floyd, a 13-year health information worker at Skagit Valley Hospital. “Working together, we can make things better for our patients and for ourselves.”
The SRH system includes Skagit Valley Hospital in Mt Vernon, as well as clinics in Mt. Vernon, Sedro Woolley, Arlington, Anacortes, Stanwood and other locations. The formerly non-union employees join the system’s kidney dialysis technicians ,who are already represented by UFCW 21, while registered nurses at SRH are represented by the Washington State Nurses Association. Newly union SRH employees join a growing number of healthcare workplaces represented by UFCW 21, including the Multicare Health System, Children’s’ Hospital, Sacred Heart in Spokane, and many more.
UFCW 21 is the state’s largest private sector union with over 43,000 members in Washington State working in grocery stores and retail, health care, and other industry jobs. Visit UFCW21.org for more information.