The following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:
BELLINGHAM (July 1, 2015) — After taking action together in a picket and strike and through a lockout, the 900 caregivers at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center have ratified a first contract that improves standards for jobs and care in Whatcom County. The caregivers, which include nursing assistants, lab techs, dietary, housekeeping, unit secretaries, sterile processing, and more, overwhelmingly voted for a contract that includes improvements in training and a significant increase in investment in front-line care.
“We have shown that united, we really do have the power to stand up for our patients, our families, and our community, and win,” said Kari Revelstoke, a Lab Assistant. “PeaceHealth will now be putting more resources into our patient care and our community.”
The new agreement includes significant wage and premium increases that will result in better recruitment and retention of caregivers. It also includes incentives to better respect caregivers’ time with their families, plus a new training fund to help caregivers advance their skills and careers.
“This contract is a win for all of us,” said Brian Wyss, an Anasthesia Tech at the hospital. “More money in frontline care means better care for patients, it means we can spend more at local businesses, it means we can have a positive impact on standards for wages in Whatcom county.”
Caregivers credit the strong support from the community for making the contract agreement possible. City Council Members, Whatcom Firefighters Association, Bellingham Education Association, and many others supported the caregivers’ actions and donated to the lockout hardship fund.
Caregivers voted to form their union with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW in 2013 and have been bargaining with PeaceHealth for twenty-one months. Members overwhelmingly ratified the agreement in votes last Thursday through the weekend. The new agreement expires August 31, 2017.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is 26,000 nurses, healthcare workers, and mental health workers in Washington state united for quality care and good jobs.