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Kadlec pickets in Tri-Cities on May 28 to demand fair pay

The following is from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:

TRI-CITIES, Wash. (May 28, 2024) — Hundreds of service and technical workers from Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and its Freestanding Emergency Room in Kennewick will unite Tuesday for an informational picket and rally calling on Providence executives to invest in Kadlec and its Tri-Cities community by settling a strong contract with wages that will recruit and retain experienced healthcare workers.

Over the course of eight bargaining sessions since January 2024 and two contract extensions, healthcare workers united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW have proposed a new wage scale that mirrors the investment that Providence has made in Providence Swedish in Seattle. In response, Kadlec proposed a wage scale that moves some job classes to lower pay grades.

TAKE A STAND — Community members are invited to join Kadlec healthcare workers at the picket to stand with them, learn more about their fight for a fair union contract, and add their voices to the workers’ call: “Same employer, same job, same pay.” Supporters can sign up to stand with caregivers on the picket line at The informational pickets will be held Tuesday, May 28 at these locations:

RICHLAND from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Kadlec, corner of Swift Blvd. and Goethals Drive. A rally with guest speakers will be held at 5 p.m.

KENNEWICK from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in front of Kadlec Freestanding Emergency Room, 3290 W. 19th Ave.

The picketing workers will shine a light on the significant disparities around compensation for Providence’s workforce at Kadlec compared to wages at Providence Swedish and other Providence facilities. Providence reports paying management teams at its various hospitals comparable wages regardless of geographic location.

According to publicly available financial information, the compensation for Kadlec’s chief nursing officer for 2022 was $424,148, and compensation for his counterpart at Swedish First Hill was $393,993; data for 2023 shows similar trends across the Providence system in Washington. Further, Providence gave Kadlec’s CEO $1.2 million in total compensation in 2023, a 38% increase. For its own frontline workers, Kadlec is proposing base wages barely above the state minimum wage of $16.28 for some job classes.

The workers at Kadlec believe that performing the same care tasks as the healthcare workers at Swedish, under the same employer, should earn them the same pay, underscoring the workers’ vision in bargaining and message on the picket line: “same employer, same job, same pay.” Kadlec, the second largest employer in the Tri-Cities, was acquired by Providence St. Joseph Health in 2014. Since its acquisition by Providence, it has generated $154 million in profit and $255 million in earnings (EBIDA). The workers believe that non-profit hospitals should invest their profits back into the communities they serve.

In addition to the lack of progress at the bargaining table around wages, Providence has not addressed the workers’ concerns around safe staffing levels, PTO accruals, a voice in decisions that affect healthcare benefits, job and contract security if Providence decides to sell Kadlec, paid bargaining time, among other outstanding issues.

The previous contract at Kadlec expired December 2023. The bargaining unit is comprised of nearly 70 job classes, including environmental services workers who keep facilities clean and free of infection; certified nursing assistants who bathe and feed patients; sterile processing technicians who assemble medical and surgical supplies and maintain sterile areas; OR technicians who provide specialized technical support to surgeons; nutrition and dietary workers who prepare and monitor food for patients with special nutritional needs; technologists; respiratory therapists; and dozens of ancillary job classes that make up the care team.

Healthcare workers gave the required 10-day picket notice to management on May 16. A picket is the right of every worker and does not interrupt patient care; it is a family and community event that caregivers participate in during their breaks, before or after their shifts or on a scheduled day off.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 33,000 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, good jobs, and economic empowerment for all.

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!