OLYMPIA (Mar. 11, 2013) — More than 500 licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, sterile processors, and dietary, housekeeping, and admitting staff walked out on strike starting this morning at 6 a.m. after Providence, a highly profitable healthcare giant, refused to settle a contract agreement that includes affordable healthcare and an end to what their union, SEIU HealthCare 1199NW, believes are unfair labor practices.
TAKE ACTION — All union members and supporters of affordable healthcare are urged to join in a community rally today (Monday) at 5 p.m. at St. Peter Hospital, Lilly & Ensign Rd NE, in support of the striking Providence workers. Those 5 p.m. daily rallies will occur daily throughout the strike. Also, striking workers welcome messages of solidarity from their Union Brothers and Sisters through their petition at www.DontCutCare.com.
At 6 a.m. Monday, workers were set to leave Providence St. Peter Hospital to walk the picket line, accompanied by state Rep. Chris Reykdal (D-Olympia) and other community supporters. In the largest healthcare strike in our state in nearly a decade, workers are prepared to strike through 9:59 a.m. on Saturday, March 16. If Providence still fails to come to the table and make an agreement by Wednesday, 150 RNs, social workers, licensed practical nurses, and other staff at Providence SoundHomeCare and Hospice will also strike.
“I work a second a job just to be able to afford my family’s healthcare,” said Abbey Bruce, a CNA at St. Peter Hospital. “My husband has cystic fibrosis and needs to take enzymes to absorb his food. This used to be covered, but now it costs our family $300 a month just so he can digest his food. I’m also going to school to become a nurse and we’re paying for it ourselves. Things are really hard for us right now. We work in a hospital, and it’s outrageous that any of us have to work a second job or worry about how we’ll afford our care.”
Providence slashed employee healthcare benefits on January 1, implementing catastrophic high-deductible plans. On Feb. 23, a community coalition came together to examine the impact of the cuts on the South Sound. Business owners, elected officials, and faith leaders agree that Providence’s cuts reach far beyond its employees.
“The major healthcare provider in Thurston County is going in the wrong direction for our community,” said Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. “This profitable employer is increasing costs to workers who are least able to afford it. It’s not a good thing for our community to have workers choosing between their healthcare and other basic needs like groceries.”
For more information, visit the SEIU HealthCare 1199NW website.
ALSO at The Stand — Providence workers may strike over cuts