Tacoma—Following the 11th bargaining session with St. Joseph’s Medical Center, nurses represented by the Washington State Nurses Association are launching a strike petition, the first step towards a potential strike if a contract cannot be reached.
“We’re asking St. Joe’s to invest in patient care and nurse safety,” said Shelly Mead, a member of the WSNA bargaining team and St. Joe’s emergency department nurse. “But St. Joe’s refuses to make the investments that would keep nurses at the hospital, or make sure we have enough staff to give our patients the level of care they deserve.”
From the beginning of negotiations, nurses at St. Joe’s have called on the hospital to commit to safe staffing levels, provide competitive pay and benefits to retain nurses, address racial justice, and take common-sense measures to keep nurses safe.
“We’re the lowest-paid nurses in the region,” said Matthew McGuire, an emergency department nurse at St. Joe’s. “We want to work here. We love serving our patients. But when you can get a 13% raise or a $10,000 bonus at another hospital right down the street, it’s a hard choice. If St. Joe’s doesn’t offer us a fair deal, more nurses will leave and the staffing problems will only get worse.”
The next negotiation session is scheduled for December 2. At the same time, the nurses announced they are launching a strike petition, the first step towards a potential strike if a deal can’t be reached.
“We want to be at the bedside with our patients,” said Yunna Flenord, a member of the bargaining team and an intensive care unit nurse at St. Joe’s. “A strike is always a last resort. We wouldn’t take this step unless we had to. If management won’t come to the table with a fair deal, then we’ll do what’s necessary to fight for our patients and ourselves.”
The strike petition is the first step toward a potential strike at St. Joe’s. The petition asks nurses to commit to stand with their colleagues and prepare to go on strike if necessary. If a strike authorization vote is called and nurses approve the strike, the union will issue a ten-day notice of intent to strike.
“This should be easy to resolve without a strike,” said Mead. “All we’re asking is that management offer competitive pay to keep nurses on the job, staff the hospital properly so we can provide great patient care, and make sure nurses are safe from the time we arrive for our shifts until we’re on our way home.”
Read this media backgrounder for more on the issues and nurses’ demands.