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‘Collaborative relationship’ leads to contract

SEIU 1199NW nurses reach deal to address staffing concerns at Valley Medical


The following is from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:

RENTON (Oct. 4, 2019) — UW Medicine|Valley Medical Center and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW announced the joint signing of a new four-year contract between management and registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and service workers. The agreement, settled in a timely manner, moves Valley Medical Center to an even higher standard of care for its patients, workers and community, and helps the medical center maintain its competitiveness in the tight healthcare labor market.

Key contract features for Valley include an emphasis on labor and management working together to address staffing concerns. A new dependent care committee will provide a venue to jointly innovate solutions to the most pressing issues for both union members and Valley. Caring for young children and aging parents is a significant burden for newer nurses and healthcare workers, and managing its impacts will help Valley Medical Center compete for top-tier talent as the retirement of Baby Boomers drives the nursing shortage. And the joint multi-union/management health benefits committee will continue as a forum for both parties to work on keeping the healthcare plan affordable for both employees and the employer.

“Valley’s nurses and service workers are all remarkable caregivers focused on providing safe, outstanding care to our patients and families,” says Rich Roodman, CEO of Valley Medical Center. “This agreement ensures our ability to retain and attract the best and brightest for our high performing teams, while preserving the fiscal sustainability necessary to continue providing quality, cost effective and innovative care to the community into the future.”

Better matching nurses to patient volumes to allow nurses and healthcare workers to provide the highest standard of care was the top priority at the bargaining table. Workers secured guaranteed competitive wages and retained good benefits; a fund to cover mandatory low census for service workers; and more data gathering and collaborative problem solving to address workloads for environmental and other service staff.

“Our collaborative relationship with Valley management meant good problem solving at the bargaining table,” said Diane Sosne, RN, MN, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “Our mutual interest in the best outcomes for our patients has led to a contract that will mean improved patient safety and quality care. When values align, it is much easier to come to an agreement both parties can support.”

Unique to this contract is an agreement by Valley Medical Center to increase its contribution to the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training and Education Fund conditioned on increases from all other participating employers. Valley Medical Center is a founding member and staunch supporter of the Training Fund, which is a nonprofit labor-management partnership between nine hospital employers and the largest healthcare union in Washington state. Established in 2008, the Training Fund was created to develop a statewide program for addressing the workforce needs of participating employers and to support the career, knowledge, and skill aspirations of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members. About 14,000 Washington state workers are currently eligible for Training Fund benefits.

Talks also focused on equity, with the addition of two workers to Valley’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee to address issues of improve diversity, increase healthcare equity and cultural humility and reduce implicit bias.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 30,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington State and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.

Valley Medical Center (VMC) is a 321-bed acute care hospital and clinic network committed to providing safe, quality, compassionate care since 1947. The oldest and largest public district hospital in the State of Washington, VMC proudly serves more than 600,000 residents in South King County. Dedicated to patient safety and improving the overall health of the community, VMC is a thriving medical center and the largest nonprofit healthcare provider between Seattle and Tacoma. Valley Medical Center is a component entity of UW Medicine.

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