SPOKANE, Wash. - On Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that will require nurses in Washington state have uninterrupted breaks to eat and rest. Thursday, nurses in eastern Washington plan to picket, demanding more than just breaks of their employers.
The Washington State Nurses Association has planned a duel picket scheduled to happen simultaneously in Spokane and Richland.
Nurses at Sacred Heart Medical Center and Kadlec Regional Medical Center said they have been in contract negotiations with Providence, which owns both hospitals, for months.
They said so far, Providence will not agree to give them what they say they need. Some of those things include making sure nurses aren’t penalized for staying home while they are sick or injured, ensuring nurses have time to take care injured or ill family members, making sure the hospitals hire and retain enough nurses, and develop stronger safety procedures to protect nurses.
Frustrated nurses held a rally in Riverfront Park back in February. Now, three months later, with still no progress made, the nurses plan to picket again. This time, the demonstrations will take place right outside of their hospitals.
They're calling Thursday's joint demonstrations, 'informational pickets.' In a release, the nurses association said, "After months of negotiations, and little movement from Providence, the registered nurses at Sacred Heart and Kadlec are taking their concerns about nurse staffing and safe patient care to the communities they serve. They are sending a message to Providence that nurses will stand together in contract negotiations."
The Spokane picket is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in front of Sacred Heart, at 8th and McClellan.
When KXLY4 reached out to Providence previously about this story, a representative told us their nurses' benefits packages are already among some of the most competitive in the state.
Providence released the following statement Thursday:
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Washington State Nursing Association (WSNA) are actively bargaining to reach a contract that is agreeable to both parties. While we don’t agree with WSNA’s characterization of our proposals, Providence respects that today’s activities are part of the bargaining process. We don’t intend to comment on WSNA’s negotiation tactics. Instead, we encourage union leaders and caregivers to focus their efforts on productively reaching agreements at the bargaining table.
Our management team and our represented employees all share the same goal of providing the best possible care to our patients. We love and value our nurses, who are among the most experienced and compassionate caregivers in the state. We all want this to be the best place to work and the best place to go for care—when we stay focused on why we were called to serve in the health care field, we accomplish great things together.
-Elizabeth DeRuyter, Associate Vice President, Communication, Providence Washington & Montana.
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