Sacred Heart nurses, workers voting to strike over ‘unfair labor practices’

Thousands of nurses and service workers at Sacred Heart Medical Center began strike votes Thursday morning to protest what many are calling unfair labor practices.

The vote comes after 14 negotiating sessions held by Sacred Heart nurses, looking to secure safe staffing levels, sick leave, competitive compensation and affordable access to health care.

“UFCW 21 and WSNA members across the state are standing up to Providence to protect our benefits and wages. We care for our patients every day, and Providence should care for us,” said Austen Louden, a union member at Sacred Heart.

More than 1,900 registered nurses of the Washington State Nurses Association and 1,280 service and maintenance workers plan to participate, said Tom Geiger, special projects director for UFCW 21.

In response, Providence Health Care sent this statement:

“We are aware that the union is holding a vote. While we are disappointed with this direction, we respect their right to do so. We are still actively bargaining in good faith and we’re hopeful that we can come to an agreement.”

“Providence has a 130 year commitment of caring for our community and we will continue to do so. We’re proud of that commitment and we’re also proud of the proposals we’ve provided to our nurses that include market-leading compensation with an average salary of $80,000 for nurses and 5 to 7 weeks of paid time off, among other benefits.”

Nurses with the WSNA will host the strike vote from 1-3 p.m., 4-6 p.m., and 8-10 p.m. on Thursday at Carpenters Hall, located at 127 E. Augusta Ave.

Sacred Heart service and maintenance workers with UFCW 21 will also meet from 11 a.m.- 4p.m. and 5-9 p.m. at the UFCW 21 Office at 2805 N Market St.