Nurses at 2 Spokane hospitals may strike Dec. 4

SEIU HealthCare 1199NW conduct an informational picket outside Valley Hospital in October.

SEIU HealthCare 1199NW conduct an informational picket outside Valley Hospital in October.

SPOKANE (Nov. 26, 2013) — Following three more days at the bargaining table in attempts to settle a contract that puts patient care first, nurses and healthcare workers at Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital have issued notice of a potential strike for Wednesday, Dec. 4. The workers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, are calling on the hospitals to sign an agreement that increases staffing and ends unfair labor practices.

Members have bargaining scheduled for Dec. 3. If an agreement is not reached by 5:59 a.m. on Dec. 4, approximately 1,000 workers — including dietary, housekeeping, registration, health unit coordinators, sterile processors, nurses, nursing assistants and others — will be striking for one day, beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

The Executive Board of the Washington State Labor Council has voted to grant strike sanction for the possible Dec. 4 walkout.

“We love our patients and that’s why we need to stand up for quality care,” said Teri Nicholson, a nurse and bargaining team member at Valley Hospital. “We don’t want to strike, but putting our patients first is our top priority. We need to hold the hospitals accountable.”

“We’re continuing to call on the hospitals for improved staffing, and we’re ready to meet with them anytime. Every patient deserves the best care, but that means having enough staff for every patient, every time,” said Mary Robinson, a Central Service Tech and bargaining team member from Deaconess Hospital.

An information picket outside Deaconess in October.

The nurses at Valley and healthcare workers at both hospitals have been at the bargaining table with their hospitals for months yet the hospitals have yet to respond to proposed staffing increases.

“Deaconess used to be a Methodist hospital but it has changed,” said Pastor Deb Conklin of the United Methodist Church. “Our nurses and healthcare workers are the experts on what patients need and the hospital needs to listen to them. This hospital means so much to me and it breaks my heart to see what has become of our Methodist legacy.”

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is 24,000 nurses, healthcare employees, and mental health workers in hospitals, agencies, and clinics statewide, united to improve our jobs and the care we give. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents the nursing, service, and technical units at Valley Hospital, and the service and technical units at Deaconess hospital. Learn more at putpatientcarefirst.org.

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