Seattle Children’s and nurses reach tentative agreement on $10 per hour raise
Sep 1, 2022, 11:35 AM | Updated: 1:55 pm
A tentative new contract agreement has been reached after 19 hours of negotiation between Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington State Nurses Association, which will raise the pay for nurses by $10 an hour.
For the 1,700 nurses contracted through the WSNA for Seattle Children’s, this would make their pay $47.60 an hour by 2024, and set up a track to double that amount over the next three years. The contract still needs to be approved by members in a vote set to happen today.
This new agreement comes during staffing shortages in hospitals across the county, as the shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in the medical community. The union says that the new agreement could reshape the conversation around pay for nurses, as more and more rally for higher pay from regional hospitals.
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The biggest issue that the nurses were rallying behind is the staffing shortage at the hospital, leading the nurses that are already there to have to work longer hours and handle more patients. The combination of burnout from the pandemic, understaffing, and more lucrative options have led to vacancy rates of up to 19% at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a figure that equates to approximately 400 registered nurses and a 14% increase over vacancy rates from last year.
The second key point of contention is pay, with nurses saying that they are getting an effective pay cut with only a 3% annual pay raise, despite inflation in the Seattle area reaching a record 8.5% high this year. That includes a lack of a retention bonus, which they say other hospitals provide for their nurses.
“The best way to retain newer nurses and grow the next generation is to raise the floor,” said Pamela Chandran, labor counsel for the Washington State Nurses Association. “We were able to make the wage scale more equitable for nurses at the lower end of the scale while ensuring that senior nurses received increases we’ve never seen before at Children.”
The union says the hospital needs 400 more nurses to properly care for their patients.
Once approved by nurses, the contract would set in motion a $10 per hour raise for all staff over the next year, an increase that the union is calling “historic.”
“We appreciate everyone working so hard to achieve this outcome,” said Jeanine Takala, Seattle Children’s spokesperson. “The new contract includes measures that will enhance safety, retention, and recruitment, and recognizes the dedication, professionalism, and quality of the 1,700-person nursing team at Seattle Children’s as well as the extraordinary circumstances they have been working under throughout the pandemic. Our focus remains on providing high-quality, safe, and equitable care to the largest pediatric region in the country so that our patients can live their healthiest and most fulfilling lives.”