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Staff at MultiCare Deaconess, Valley hospitals win ‘huge gains’

The following is from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:

SPOKANE (July 2, 2021) — The bargaining team of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Deaconess and Valley hospitals are pleased to announce the signing of a new three-year contract for registered nurses, service workers and techs.

The agreement, reached after seven months of bargaining, moves Deaconess and Valley to an even higher standard of care for patients, caregivers and community, and helps the hospitals remain competitive in a tight healthcare labor market where the impacts of COVID are still being felt.

“This new contract represents huge gains for healthcare workers at Deaconess and Valley — and it demonstrates the power of coming together in our union to fight for what we need for our patients and our families,” said Jane Hopkins, RN, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “These workers came together across job classes committed to raising standards for everyone and leaving no one behind. That’s the power of a union.”

Frontline caregivers sought improvements to wages that would help recruit and retain qualified staff, increases in staffing, and to retain the high patient care standards they had won in previous contracts. In the newly ratified contract, workers in all job classes will receive across-the-board wage increases totaling 7.75% in 18 months, plus step increases on the wage scale, meeting or exceeding increases offered at other area hospitals.

The contract also includes additional increases for healthcare workers with low wages or wages that are not competitive with those of other hospitals. Registered nurses will receive a 5% wage increase upon ratification and a 3.5% increase in both December 2021 and December 2022. Low-wage workers like housekeepers and food service workers will receive an 11% raise upon ratification of the contract. Surgical techs receive a 5.5% raise upon ratification, and other technologists are scheduled to receive comparable increases.

“This contract is for everyone,” said Lauren Lombardo, a housekeeper at Valley Hospital and member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “Lower-wage workers are getting big increases. These proposals will help everyone and will improve recruitment and retention for all.”

The new contract incorporates the Washington state breaks and overtime law into the collective bargaining agreement, strengthening break and overtime protections for nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, multiple tech roles, respiratory therapists, and registered nurses. A new joint labor-management breaks work group will meet to review missed breaks on each department and collaborate on solutions where breaks are frequently missed. Research shows that regular access to full meal and rest breaks supports patient care quality and healthcare worker retention.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 32,000 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.

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