(July 31, 2019) — Hundreds of delegates representing unions across Washington state took action last week to support healthcare workers at Providence hospitals and clinics — first with their feet and then with their vote.
Delegates attending the 2019 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO rallied Friday alongside Providence employees outside the company’s corporate headquarters in Renton. And on Saturday they unanimously passed a resolution that calls for Providence to “return to the founding core values of Compassion, Dignity, Justice, Excellence and Integrity, and put patients before profits.”
They are standing in solidarity with Providence employees represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21, OPEIU 8, and the Washington State Nurses Association. All job titles throughout the Providence system in Washington state — nurses, nursing assistants, techs, social workers, transporters, hospice workers, pharmacists, environmental services, nutrition workers, clerks and lab workers — gathered for Friday’s massive show of unity and urged Providence to stop prioritizing executive pay, profits and branding over the needs of patients and frontline workers.
“We’re holding this rally for Patients Before Profits to bring our message directly to the multi-million dollar executives at Providence,” said April Sims, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, at Friday’s rally.
Here is Resolution #16 as approved by WSLC delegates on Saturday:
RESOLUTION CALLING ON PROVIDENCE ST. JOSEPH HEALTH TO PUT PATIENTS BEFORE PROFITS
WHEREAS, Providence healthcare workers throughout Washington State are deeply committed to providing high quality, compassionate care to their communities and keeping their patients safe; and
WHEREAS, caregivers are struggling with severe understaffing, unaffordable health benefits, cuts to their sick time, unfair wages, layoffs, disrespect and racial injustice on the job, all of which make it extremely difficult to provide the quality care their patients deserve; and
WHEREAS, Providence is a Catholic “not-for-profit” that receives millions of dollars in tax breaks from Washington taxpayers, it is the largest health system in our state, and claims to be driven by the belief that “health is a human right”; and
WHEREAS, 3,732 Providence employees and dependents had to rely on Apple Health, the state’s Medicaid program last year, because of Providence’s outrageous premiums, high deductibles, co-pays and other healthcare costs; and
WHEREAS, when Providence healthcare workers cannot pay their healthcare bills, Providence often sends them to medical debt collections, destroying their credit; and
WHEREAS, Providence had over $24 billion in operating revenue and $11 billion in cash reserves in 2018, and the top 15 executives had over $41 million in total compensation in 2017; and
WHEREAS, the Providence United Coalition is comprised of 20,000 of our union sisters and brothers in OPEIU Local 8, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association, representing registered nurses, nursing assistants, techs, social workers, chaplains, transporters, hospice workers, pharmacists, environmental services, nutrition workers, clerks, lab workers and more; and
WHEREAS, many other union members of the Washington State Labor Council and their families utilize Providence healthcare services, so we must ensure they receive the highest quality care; and
WHEREAS, as unionists we are committed to the principle that all workers should have a strong voice on the job and a life of dignity for themselves and their children; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the leaders of local unions and councils will send letters to the Providence board of directors calling on them to listen to healthcare workers and immediately negotiate fair union contracts; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council will stand in solidarity with healthcare workers in their fight to make Providence return to the founding core values of Compassion, Dignity, Justice, Excellence and Integrity, and put patients before profits.