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Hundreds of Spokane nurses rally, as SMHC & WSNA contract negotiations continue

SPOKANE, Wash. - You might have seen the hundreds of nurses and their supporters rallying in Riverfront Park on Monday afternoon. They want the community to know about negotiations with Providence Sacred Heart and why there's still no contract.

Over the course of four months, Providence and nurses still haven't reached an agreement. Those nurses say they're concerned about future pay, time off, and the overall quality of healthcare they'll be able to give their patients.

Nurses told KXLY4, what they're rallying for goes far beyond the employee benefits and paid time off. They said it's not just about the nurses, it's all about the patients. They also said to KXLY4, tired nurses can make mistakes. 

Out in the cold weather, more than 200 nurses stood together at Riverfront Park.

"We are fighting for our rights as nurses," said KT Raley Jones, registered nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The future is still unknown for many of these nurses, as contract negotiations are ongoing between Providence and Washington State Nurses Association. 

"Trying to negotiate a contract that we think is fair, a contract that keeps patients safe and nurses safe," said Clint Wallace, registered nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

However, nurses said trying to reach an agreement hasn't been easy.

"The negotiations are slow and tedious though. It seems that providence continues to drag this on every negotiation. They cause a lot of turmoil, they cause a lot of angst among the staff. But we keep fighting for what we think is right," Wallace said.

The main points both sides are discussing include paid time off, salary, work place violence, meal breaks, and the overall quality of care delivered in their hospitals.

"We really deal with vulnerable patients who a lot of times don't have anyone to take care of themselves and a lot of emotions are involved when people are sick and dying," Wallace said.

"We need our breaks, we need our rest breaks," Jones said. "We need that time to recenter ourselves as well."

Providence released a statement Monday, addressing some of the topics in negotiation: 

"With regard to how we help nurses obtain time off from work, we are adapting our benefits packages, which remain among the most competitive in the state across all industries," said Elizabeth DeRuyter, director of marketing and communications for Providence Health Care.

"We want to provide the best care that we can for our patients in this community and in the surrounding communities. And with that - we need to be able to take care of ourselves as well," Jones said.

Until an agreement is made, they said they'll keep fighting for their rights together.

KXLY4 asked if a strike is in the future, depending on how contract negotiations progress. They said there's nothing planned right now, they hope they can reach an agreement before anything like that happens. They said a strike is always a last resort.


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