Union hopes tentative agreement with Sacred Heart nurses will pave way for settlement with Swedish

The Service Employees International Heathcare 1199NW union (SEIU) announced Tuesday that a “tentative agreement” has been reached between nurses belonging to the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) and Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane — and is hopeful a similar agreement can be reached with Swedish Medical Center.

In its announcement, the union stresses that the tentative agreement is a direct result of what it is calling the “unity of unions,” noting that 13,000 nurses and health care workers of three union — SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21  and WSNA — have been in contract negotiations with Providence for months “to protect patient care and safety.”

Like Swedish in the Puget Sound area, Sacred Heart is affiliated with Providence St. Joseph Health, a Washington non-profit corporation and the sole member of Providence Health & Services, and St. Joseph’s Health System, a California non-profit public benefit corporation. Both of these organizations control a multi-state health system, one of the largest such systems in the U.S. The two have operated as a single system since 2016.

This health system, headquartered in Renton, Wash., is structured with a centralized operating model and governed by a co-sponsorship council comprised of members of its two sponsoring ministries, Providence Ministry and St. Joseph Health Ministry. While certain resources and functions are shared among the various health care providers across the system,  Swedish and the more than 25 other affiliated members remain as independent health care providers with their own administration and labor agreements.

Swedish Edmonds Hospital provides care to many residents in South Snohomish County.

Swedish issued its own statement Tuesday afternoon, clarifying that negotiations with SEIU are ongoing, and reaffirming its commitment to participate in contract negotiations.

“As a separate employer, our bargaining team is focused on negotiating a contract for Swedish caregivers,” the statement said. “The Swedish team has been meeting with SEIU 1199NW in intensive, substantive sessions since Sunday morning, with the support of federal mediators, and we will continue to work hard at the bargaining table in the hope of reaching an agreement with the union.”

Swedish is continuing to provide contract negotiation updates on its Labor Negotiations News web page.

Learn more in our previous story on the status of contract talks.

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