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Swedish strike would affect Edmonds hospital


November 14, 2019

Brian Soergel

Swedish Edmonds Hospital

The nurses and health-care workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW at Swedish Medical Center will announce the results of their strike authorization vote Friday, Nov. 15.

This would affect all campuses, including Swedish Edmonds. According to Swedish's website, the Edmonds location has 217 licensed beds, more than 450 physicians and specialists, and more than 1,400 staff including clinical and non-clinical personnel.

In a news release from the union, nurses and other health-care workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW say they believe that providing the best quality care is no longer Swedish-Providence's top priority.

Instead, they say they have seen drastic changes at Swedish-Providence, which prioritize executive pay, profits and expansion above the needs of patients.

And while caregivers have made sorely needed proposals to improve staffing levels, increase safety for patients, and create a culture of equity and inclusion for workers and patients alike, Swedish-Providence has not bargained in good faith or taken seriously the issues raised, the union said.

At the press conference announcing the vote, caregivers from Swedish-Providence will be joined by their co-workers across the Providence system from UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association. Health-care workers representing each union will share their concerns about patient care and working conditions at their facilities. The three unions represent over 15,000 nurses and other health-care workers across Washington State.

In addition to concerns about their employer's commitment to safe care, caregivers at Swedish-Providence believe the hospital has committed multiple unfair labor practices, such as termination of workers for union activity, retaliation for protected union activity, and a failure to provide information necessary for bargaining.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW's collective bargaining agreement with Swedish Medical Center expired June 30, and was extended through the end of July. Bargaining has been ongoing since April, and workers picketed in August.

In September 2018, Swedish – a nonprofit owned by Providence Health and Services –

announced that it needed to "evolve" into a "more cost-effective model of care" and cut more than 550 jobs as part of what CEO Guy Hudson said was a move to "transform Swedish so that it can better serve the current and future needs of its patients and communities."

The move was part of the organization's push to focus more on outpatient care and less on inpatient, hospital care.

Hudson – a Swedish pediatric urologic surgeon and executive physician leader – was named CEO in July 2017, five months after CEO Tony Armada resigned following a Seattle Times investigative story raising concerns about Swedish's neurosurgery institute on Cherry Hill.

In December 2017, 98 percent of nurses and other Swedish caregiver members of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW expressed no confidence in the organization's leadership.

They cited decreasing morale and quality of patient care.

Hudson said that, like other health-care organizations, it is "confronting the challenges posed by declining reimbursement rates, a changing payer mix and increasing costs of care. At the same time, patients' needs and demands are changing dramatically. There is growing demand for community-based care that is supported through a network of ambulatory, virtual and other types of non-acute care."

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and health-care workers with over 30,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana.


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