Hundreds of hospital workers walk off the job

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BELLINGHAM- Hundreds of healthcare workers are walking off the job, demanding better benefits and increased staffing.

Lab techs, nursing assistants, along with other hospital service and technical workers protested outside of PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Wednesday morning. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW organized the 25-hour strike.

The one-day strike calls attention to the ongoing contract negotiations between the hospital and the workers. Union leaders say they’ve been working on the new contract since the caregivers voted to form the union in September 2013.

On the hospital website, there was a statement to patients about the strike and protest:

“Our collective focus on the day of the strike—as it is everyday— is providing you with safe, quality patient care. We apologize for any inconvenience this activity may cause you.”

Please note that patients with scheduled procedures at the hospital on the day of the strike should assume that the procedures will go forward as planned. Should there be any changes, patients will be notified by hospital or physician office staff.”

The protest is expected to end Thursday morning.

Union organizers say nearly 100 other caregivers including nurses, healthcare workers , dietary, housekeeping, and more will strike at Cascade Behavioral Health in Tukwila on Thursday.

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  • Jim E Rotten

    If you’re in healthcare and walk off the job, it’s best you don’t hold multiple signs that read, “Put Patients First”.

    • Jimbob

      Yep that’s just like striking teachers who hold up signs that read “Put Students First” or “Put Children First”.

  • Trev

    Why are people upset Hospital workers are protesting? Fast food workers protest for $15/hr wages, while healthcare workers watch their wages dwindle. How does this make sense to get upset with the people taking care of you or your loved ones?

    • dg54321

      We think the $15/hr fast food workers are incredibly stupid too. Not exactly a great group to want to compare yourself to.

  • dg54321

    SEIU is a joke, a thinly veiled front for agitators and Democrat politicians. Pretty much what Acorn merged into after it got caught with its pants down.

  • M. Hoerler

    It’s time for PeaceHealth to care for Whatcom County!

    Caregivers at St. Joe’s Hospital and Lab will strike on Wednesday, May 13 to stand up for our patients and our community and call for an end to unfair labor practices. Come stand with us for an evening rally and show your support for good care and good jobs at St. Joe’s.

    900 healthcare workers are calling for PeaceHealth to invest in patients, caregivers, and Whatcom County. PeaceHealth, which made $40 million profit in 2013, is failing to invest in frontline caregivers and treating Whatcom County as a profit center, not a community.

    Caregivers report that their healthcare is so expensive that several have been taken to collections by our employer for care we received at the hospital where we work.

    • anon

      What makes them any more special than everyone else? If you don’t pay your bills and you get this sent to collections. Period.

  • Timothy McNitt

    I support the efforts of our local caregivers. I do not work at St. Joseph Medical Center and I’m not a member of any union. I’ve owned a local business for the past 20 years. I’m very concerned about the direction PeaceHealth has taken our community hospital since their takeover several years ago.

    The caregivers at St. Joseph Medical Center are members of our local community. They are our friends, neighbors, and family. They have chosen to work in healthcare, despite the inherent risks. They often work nights, weekends, and holidays. They have chosen to take a stand for our community and insist that a greedy corporation invest in safe staffing levels, as well as decent wages and benefits for the people who care for you and I when we are sick or injured. They deserve our support.

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