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Rally, picket Aug. 9 to support nurses at Seattle Children’s

Short-staffed hospital is not doing enough to attract, retain nurses


SEATTLE — The 1,700 registered nurses represented by the Washington State Nurses Association at Seattle Children’s Hospital and their supporters will rally outside the hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way N.E., at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9 for better working conditions and compensation that attracts and retains nurses. All are invited and encouraged to attend. The nurses will also conduct informational picketing that day from 6 to 9 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.

Nurses at Seattle Children’s are concerned about working conditions and stalled contract negotiations after nine bargaining sessions with hospital leadership over the past four months.

Seattle Children’s is losing nurses at an alarming rate and the nurses want the hospital to do more to attract new and retain experienced RNs. The nurse vacancy rate at the hospital was 19 percent as of Jan. 31, 2022, up from 5 percent on Dec. 28, 2020, according to Seattle Children’s data. The hospital needs an estimated additional 400 nurses to properly care for their patients. Nurses are worried for themselves and the children they help.

Like many hospitals with a staffing crisis, Seattle Children’s increased substantially its reliance on travel RNs — nurses who work on short term contracts at significantly higher wage rates. The hospital is attracting new nurses with hiring bonuses ($10,000-$20,000).

Given the cost of finding new nurses and paying travel nurse wages, retaining nurses through meaningful wage increases makes more financial sense. But after spending two-plus years working in one of the most stressful and emotionally draining environments imaginable, nurses at Seattle Children’s received just 3 percent in annual wage increases. Unlike other Seattle-area hospitals, they did not receive a retention bonus.

Meanwhile, annual inflation has been as high as 8.5%, and other Washington hospitals have invested in the retention of their nursing staff by giving double-digit raises.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is one of the wealthiest hospitals in the state and can afford to invest in its nursing staff. (See its financial report.) The hospital received $80 million in federal relief under the Coronavirus AID, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), but did not use the money on increasing healthcare wages. It’s unclear where the money was spent, but profits rose as well as net assets (i.e., financial investments and more property and buildings).

TAKE A STAND — Please join the WSNA registered nurses and their supporters at Tuesday’s rally at 1 p.m. at Seattle Children’s Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way N.E.

The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, providing representation, education and resources that allow nurses to reach their full professional potential and focus on caring for patients. WSNA represents more than 17,000 registered nurses for collective bargaining who provide care in hospitals, clinics, and community and public health settings across the state.

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:

Show your support for nurses at Seattle Children’s Hospital (June 23) — Sign a petition urging the hospital to offer fair pay and safe staffing.

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!