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Providence strike ends, but fight for affordable care continues

The following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:

providence-strike-endsOLYMPIA (Mar. 19, 2013) — At 9:59 a.m. on Saturday, more than 530 workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital marched back to work, linked arm in arm with community and labor supporters. The workers, who had been on strike since Monday, returned with new resolve to continue their fight for affordable healthcare.

“You’ve been out here standing up for all of us,” said Lacey City Council Member Andy Ryder. “You care for us. Providence needs to care for you. We stood with you this week and we’ll keep standing with you in this fight.”

With an additional 150 workers from Providence SoundHomeCare and Hospice on the line at the same time as the St. Peter strike, this week’s action was the largest healthcare workers’ strike since 2004. The strike at SoundHomeCare ended at 6:59 a.m. Saturday morning.

Providence has implemented healthcare cuts throughout its 5-state network that raised deductibles to $3,000 for families.  Local families have been slammed with healthcare bills and report delaying needed care, skipping necessary medications, and considering bankruptcy filings following just the first three months on these new healthcare plans.

“I had thyroid cancer and have needed scans and blood work every few months,” said St. Pete’s Dietary worker Deborah Tipton. “Since these cuts to effect, I’ve been delaying my scans and blood work because I can’t afford the bills. It’s scary but I have little choice.”

Workers hope to be back at the bargaining table with Providence soon to work together to create a healthcare plan that meets workers’ needs and reduces costs.  If Providence continues to insist on continuing the healthcare cuts, workers will continue their campaign for affordable healthcare and haven’t ruled out future action.

“We are committed to doing what it takes so our families can have affordable care,” said Bob Wilson, an OR Tech at St. Pete’s. “We hope we don’t have to be out here on strike again. But we can’t live like this, where we’re choosing between paying our bills and getting care.”

ALSO at The Stand — Sad irony of hospitals slashing employee health benefits (by Brendan Williams)

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