On Thursday June 30, SEIU and Swedish agreed to extend the current contract through July 19, giving both parties more time to come to a solution that is fair for all who depend on Swedish – our patients, employees and community.
Swedish presented a comprehensive proposal on rest breaks. The proposal included a process for employees to alert their supervisor as soon as it becomes clear that an employee might miss their break, so solutions can be reached to ensure our employees get the rest they need, and they can continue to provide the highest quality patient care.
SEIU did not respond to Swedish’s economic proposal and stated that many of its members do not believe the severity of the economic and industry reality that we are facing. Swedish again reiterated that these negotiations are not like negotiations in the past; Swedish must make hard choices now in order to preserve jobs and retirement funding in the future.
Several SEIU members expressed concern about the impact of premium payments on employees in terms of retention and cost. Swedish noted that greater premium cost sharing is not unusual for the industry. UWMC and Harborview employees pay a 14% premium for themselves and a 15% percent premium for their dependents. Swedish seeks to establish a wellness program, incentivizing healthy behaviors. Increased cost sharing and adjusting our medical plan design will further reduce healthcare costs while ensuring the health and well being of our employees.
Swedish also suggested looking at a tiered premium share structure so that employees earning less would pay less for medical premiums than employees who earn more. Additionally, there are ways to charge different amounts for dependents; for example charging less to cover children than covering a spouse or partner, since children are typically less expensive to insure.
There are lots of ways that Swedish and SEIU can work together to identify a way to share healthcare costs and come to a solution that is fair for everyone who relies on Swedish – our patients, employees and community.
Bargaining will resume on Thursday, July 7, and a future bargaining session is scheduled for July 19. Several sub-committee meetings will also be held over the next couple of weeks.
There was some progress made on language in the proposals during sessions. Swedish proposed focusing on updates to existing language in the contracts. The two parties exchanged proposals and counter proposals. SEIU proposed a comprehensive counter proposal on the grievance procedure, seeking to address concerns both parties have with the existing process. The parties continued to exchange ideas on a number of other proposals that impact the RN, tech and service contracts.
Thank you for the emails and comments we have received. We appreciate hearing from you even if you have a different point of view. Please feel free to submit questions or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.swedish.org/negotiationsnews.