Swedish and SEIU 1199NW agree on new contracts for caregivers

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Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and Swedish have agreed on new contracts that cover over 7,700 represented employees of Swedish Medical Center and Swedish Edmonds.

Inslee convened the two sides last month with an independent mediator, Thomas Kochan, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, and federal mediator Beth Schindler, Western Regional Director of Field Operations for Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.

On Monday night, 1199NW members voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contracts.

“We appreciate the governor's engagement in bringing the parties together to address the key issues for nurses and healthcare workers at Swedish,” said Diane Sosne, RN, MN, president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “It's especially important to have this contract ratified during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The investment of dedicated funding in a labor-management innovation partnership shows a real commitment from Swedish to partner with nurses and caregivers to face present and future healthcare challenges together.”

The contracts contain a partnership agreement centered on improving quality of health care, protecting staff and advancing the recruitment of future workers. Also included is a strong commitment from Swedish to work with its front line caregivers when discussing staffing levels and joint work on policy issues.

“I am grateful that we came together to finalize these agreements during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Guy Hudson, CEO of Swedish. “Now more than ever, we need to be One Swedish to support our patients, community and each other during this crisis. I extend my thanks to Governor Inslee for his leadership to bring our two sides together and the mediators who helped find a solution we can both support.”

The partnership agreement also contains a first in the nation “Best Jobs, Best Care” Joint Labor-Management Innovation Fund. The fund will develop work-site innovation leaders, improve recruitment of a multi-racial care team, improve quality of patient care and study new developments in technology. Swedish will commit $1 million over four years to this fund.

The agreement includes 13.5% wage increases over the life of the contracts, and new zero-premium health coverage for employees who earn less than $60,000 annually.

“I want to thank the leadership of 1199NW and Swedish for agreeing to reconvene and work hard to reach this agreement,” Inslee said. “Professor Kochan and Beth Schindler did an impressive job of keeping people talking and all parties focused on the most important goal: a unified health care system to help us fight against this global pandemic.

“I hope the agreements reached serve as a model for how labor and management in the health care industry can work together in these trying times,” he said.

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