Healthcare Workers At Deaconess/Valley Hospitals Ratify New Contract
SPOKANE, Wash. - Nurses and healthcare workers at Deaconess and Valley hospitals overwhelmingly ratified a new contract agreement Friday afternoon with Community Health Systems, the Tennessee-based owners of the local hospitals. The new agreement covers 1,050 nurses, service and technical workers at Valley Hospital and Medical Center, and service and technical workers at Deaconess Medical Center.
A tentative agreement was reached Wednesday morning, thereby averting a one-day unfair labor practice strike that was scheduled to begin at 7:00 am. Turnout for the voting was heavy, with 98% voting in favor of the agreement.
"Our goal was to bargain a fair contract that will allow our hospitals to recruit and retain the best qualified healthcare workers so we can continue the tradition to give great quality care," said Nancy Westbrook, Admitting Representative at Deaconess Hospital. "We all stood together and we're very happy with this contract."
"Deaconess and Valley are a very important part of our community. This contract will help put things back on the right track," said Teri Nicholson, Registered Nurse, Valley Hospital.
The new contract includes:
• Implementation of Washington state's safe staffing law to provide nurses with a direct voice in patient staffing issues through a staffing committee with hospital management to address changing patient needs.
• Competitive compensation packages to recruit and retain qualified nurses and healthcare workers to Deaconess and Valley, ensuring annual wage increases of 2-3% for all job classes each year of the contract.
• Security and stability through longer-term contracts with durations of 2 ½ -3 years.
It is also anticipated that the eight unfair labor practice charges against Community Health Systems brought forward by the National Labor Relations Board will be settled.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents 570 technical and service workers at Deaconess Medical Center, and 500 nurses, technical and service workers at Valley Hospital & Medical Center.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents 22,000 nurses, healthcare employees, and mental health workers in hospitals, agencies, and clinics statewide.
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