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Swedish nurses strike
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King, Snohomish County nurses reverse course, announce intent to strike

Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. (KIRO 7)

After initially appearing to have made progress in negotiations, nurses and health care workers at Swedish Health Services in Seattle are once again nearing a strike.

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Workers in the SEUI Healthcare 1199NW union at Swedish will officially submit their 10-day notice of intent to strike Friday at a 12 p.m. press conference.

“The parties are too far apart,” said the union in a news release. “Workers intend to strike January 28-30 if proposals adequately addressing patient safety and staffing levels are not forthcoming.”

A potential strike would include over 8,000 nurses and caregivers at Swedish, and over 13,000 health care workers combined at 13 Providence locations across Washington state. The union bills this as potentially the “largest healthcare strike in recent history.”

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s collective bargaining agreement with Swedish Medical Center expired at the end of last June. It was extended through the end of July. Bargaining has been ongoing since April 2019. Workers picketed in August, before voting to strike in mid-November.

Swedish  health care workers had originally set a Jan. 14 day to strike, before opting to postpone after progress was made in negotiations. That progress has since stalled out.

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While the hospital has qualified its collective bargaining proposal as “strong,” the nurses at Swedish have accused bosses of breaking federal labor laws, retaliating against workers for participating in union activity, surveilling employees, and intimidating staff members. The union also cites staffing issues that have left many overworked.

“Providence is a $24 billion corporation that sits on an $11 billion cash reserve,” said the union’s news release. “The corporation can afford to provide good benefits and wages to the nurses and healthcare workers it employs and should start treating its employees fairly.”

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