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Providence St. Peter in Olympia picketed over health cuts, low pay

The following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:

OLYMPIA — Providence has the resources to do better than healthcare cuts, reductions in time off, and low staffing, say the more than 50 Providence St. Peter Chemical Dependency Center employees who marched with picket signs on Oct. 17 flanked by community supporters.

psp-picket-13Oct17Providence received a formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board and was summoned to appear before an administrative law judge to answer charges that it broke the law when it cut employee benefits.  Workers testify to bills mounting as high as $3,000 since January 1 following the increase in care costs.  Staff at the Chemical Dependency Center, which voted to form its union in July of 2011, is still working without a contract.

“Providence is wealthy and the cuts to healthcare are hurting us and the patients,” said Dan Fischer, a Chemical Dependency Professional at Providence CDC. “We are on the frontline every day advocating for our patients and are standing up for them on the picket line.”

Community leaders pointed to Providence as an example of greed gone wrong, citing Providence’s non-profit status as giving the corporation increased responsibility to do the right thing by workers, patients, and the community.

“It’s a shame that we’re out here again, calling on Providence, which should be a charity with a sense of right and wrong, to do the right thing,” said Lacey City Council member Andy Ryder.  “It shouldn’t take a picket line to tell a Catholic charity that it hurts families when healthcare is unaffordable.”

Members of the Washington Public Employees Association, AFSCME, and the letter carriers union were among the crowd.  State Representative Chris Rykedal drew comparisons between the ongoing grocery workers’ talks and the picket at Providence.

“Workers everywhere are standing up, as we need to be, because companies have the wrong priorities,” said Rykedal.  “It’s up to us to hold them accountable, and being out here on the picket line is a good way to do that.”

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