Nearly 1000 workers and supporters of SEIU gathered at the Swedish Hospital on First Hill in Seattle to picket understaffed hospitals and worsening healthcare. According to Swedish First Hill workers, three months of negotiations have brought them less than favorable health insurance, with high deductibles and high costs of office visits, leaving some in debt to the same institutions where they provide health care to the public.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray spoke to the crowd, promising his support, “I want to join you in calling for a swift, fair resolution to this labor dispute, and any new contract…must demonstrate the same level of care to your employees as you show your patients…a new contract must ensure that those who work in a hospital have access to affordable health care.”
Joining Mayor Murray were Seattle City Council Members Kshama Sawant, Mike O’Brien, Bruce Harell, Jean Godden, and King County Council Members Larry Gossett and Rod Debowski who all spoke in support of the nurses, healthcare workers, and hospital staff who joined the picket for a continuation of the same quality insurance they had before Providence took over Swedish Hospitals.
Earlier in the day, demonstrators protested understaffed shifts and poor health insurance around the region before joining together for a major picket against Providence/Swedish on First Hill. Protestors lined both sides of Broadway and received countless honks and waves in support of the picket. Pat O’Brien is a Post Partum Charge Nurse and has worked at Swedish First Hill for 36 years, “We have some things on the table that talk about safe staffing, a decent living wage, and better insurance…”. After twelve sessions (or three months) of sitting at the bargaining table, the negotiators have refused to listen to the proposals set forward by SEIU Healthcare workers.
From the Facebook event page…
“Swedish-Providence made $110 million in profit in 2014 and Providence paid its CEO $1.9 million in 2013. It can afford good care and good jobs but would rather make its CEO rich and bank a huge profit.
Nurses and healthcare workers are speaking out because we need more staffing to give our patients the care they need. Caregivers, some of whom are in collections to Swedish-Providence for care we received in the hospital where we work, need relief from our high healthcare costs. And we need an investment in our work that allows us to support our families rather than fall behind.
We’ll picket at Edmonds, Ballard, Issaquah, First Hill, Cherry Hill, Redmond, Mill Creek from 12 noon – 2pm on July 1 and then end the day with a big rally and picket at First Hill from 4-6:30pm.
We are standing up for good care, good jobs, and access for all at Swedish-Providence. Join us!
www.careforseattle.com” – Rally & Picket for Good Care and Good Jobs at Swedish-Providence