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PeaceHealth staffers return to work after 2-day lockout

UPDATE (May 16, 2015) — SEIU HealthCare 1199NW reports that PeaceHealth workers were allowed to return to their patients on Saturday morning following a two-day lockout by management.

The following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:

PeaceHealth-lockout-15May14BELLINGHAM (May 14, 2015) — Showing its allegiances are tighter with an out-of-town contracted temporary worker agency than with its own patients, community, or caregivers, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital and Labs has locked out strikers.  The caregivers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, had given the hospital and labs notice of a 25-hour strike, yet the hospital refuses to let the dedicated, experienced caregivers back to the bedside.

“I’m here to care for our patients,” said Kathleen Cruse, a Senior Lab Assistant.  “Our patients know us and need us.”

The nursing assistants, lab techs, dietary, housekeeping, unit secretaries, and other service and technical workers went on strike on Wednesday morning at 6:00am to call for PeaceHealth to increase its investment in frontline care and end its unfair labor practices.  The corporation, which made $50 million in profit last year, has for 18 months refused caregivers’ calls for improved staffing, wages, and benefits.

“Shame on PeaceHealth for putting its patients in the hands of strangers,” said Anita Claymore, a housekeeper in the hospital.  “Nobody cares for our community like the caregivers from our community.”

The locked-out caregivers returned to the picket line on Thursday morning and vowed to continue to take action to share their stories of how PeaceHealth is putting profit before patient care.

“I’ve been working at St. Joseph Hospital for a very long time. It used to be easy to take care of my family and myself on what I was making, but now things have changed,” said Savita Kashyap, a Certified Nursing Aid.  “Living costs are higher and we are not able to take care of our families like we used to. It’s critical to my family that we have good wages and benefits, but it’s critical to my patients too who need good, experienced caregivers.”

Learn more and see photos at the union’s Facebook page.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is 26,000 nurses, healthcare workers, and mental health workers throughout Washington state united to improve our jobs and the care we give.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!