Issue 12 - Current Contract Extended Through July 19

Issue 12 - Current Contract Extended Through July 19

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 Presents Comprehensive Proposal on Rest Breaks

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 Members Question the Magnitude of Economic and Industry Reality

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 Suggests Options for Tiered Premium Share

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.

Looking Ahead

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.

Progress on Language

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.

Questions or Comments?

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 corporate.communications@swedish.org or www.swedish.org/negotiationsnews. 

Comments
EVS
i make 13 dollar an hour, three years no raise, no step raise.......... higher insurance, how can i support my family....or atleast be motivated to clean up your mess
7/16/2011 7:38:42 PM
Swedish Bargaining Team
Concerned Employee:

These are challenging times and despite the contract, we think it is in the best interest of all of our employees to re-look at freezing the pension. Ultimately, the Union will decide if they want to look at this option and we will abide by their decision, but it doesn't affect the reality that Swedish must reduce expenses by $200 million over the next three years. Currently, only about a quarter of Swedish employees are enrolled in the pension, this is a significant expense that does not benefit everyone, and that is not fair. When faced with challenging times, we believe we must pull together and do what is in the best interest of all who rely on Swedish - our patients, employees, and community.

The challenge with the pension is that pension funding is volatile and unpredictable, and in this "New Normal" environment, the risks associated with this benefit threaten Swedish’s financial stability. As we've seen in the news recently – from states like New Jersey and California to automaker GM – pensions are harming companies and governments nationwide and changes are being made to find more stable retirement plans that provide for employees while ensuring companies, nonprofits and government entities can stay afloat.

We are in this together. Swedish administrators and managers have already made a lot of tough decisions - from layoffs and wage freezes to freezing their pensions - to ensure that Swedish can be successful in the future. But we can't do it alone; we need SEIU's help to find their fair share of the $200 million we need to save over the next three years.
7/6/2011 10:58:09 AM
Swedish Bargaining Team
First Hill RN:

Tiered premiums were just one idea suggested by Swedish to find a solution that is fair to all employees, so that those making more, pay a little more, and those making less - regardless of their title - pay a little less. We are looking for creative ways to help SEIU find their fair share of the $200 million we need to save over the next year, so that we can arrive at an outcome that is fair for everyone.

With regard to Valley Medical Center, they do not have a defined benefit pension plan like Swedish, so they were able to keep their retirement plan, which is very similar to Swedish’s existing 401K retirement plan. Without the risk and volatility of a pension plan, Valley has more flexibility to commit funds to wages and medical benefits. In addition, Valley receives an $18M subsidy from the tax payers of Renton, which contributes significantly to their bottom line.
7/6/2011 10:56:23 AM
First Hill RN
A tiered premium??? Really??? I feel like this is just an effort on Swedish's part to split us. I know many RNs who are struggling just to make ends meet - - don't just assume that RNs are better off.
Plus, I recently heard Valley Medical just settled their contract and they left their pension alone, didn't raise their premiums on their healthcare, and they got a raise (though I don't know how much).
I also like that "concerned employee" brought up the frozen turkey's. Over the last couple of years all Swedish has done is take from it's employees. I used to be so proud at the holidays to say my turkey was from my employer and all my family was so very impressed. Now, Swedish is willing to loose their highest quality employees all for their "vision."
7/4/2011 4:53:41 PM
Concerned Employee
The New Illegal
Contract. "A voluntary,deliberate,legally enforceable agreement between two parties." Has Swedish Medical Center forgotten that they signed a contract in 2008 which states in part, "The employer agrees to maintain the Defined Benefit Plan as long as there are eligible employees covered by the Plan and will not seek in any way to eliminate or modify the Plan in any future negotiations" (Section 6.5.1 service contract).
Can anyone enlighten me as to why the 2011 Swedish economic proposal included two out of three choices that directly contradict the agreement as promised by law in our 2008 contract? Does the "new normal" mean that Swedish does not have to honor it's existing legal commitments? Choices A and B include verbiage eliminating the pension, thereby making them illegal. This
leaves option C as the only legal option left. How are folks liking that one? I hope you don't have any kids, your coverage for their health care benefits are going to skyrocket. Hope you're also okay with the dollar amount on your paycheck, because it'll stay that way for the next three years..
As went the frozen turkeys off the truck on Cherry street, once a month mental health day, food vouchers on snow days, employee appreciation day at Remlinger Farm, and
other seemingly minor (in Swedish's view) takeaways, Swedish has managed to steadily chip away at employee moral. However, we the employees of Swedish, are resilient and here is
a promise that is going to be kept; We will not accept an economic proposal as degrading and impossible to live with as the one offered! We have worked decades to create and sustain the respected reputation that Swedish is so very proud of. We not only expect but demand the same level of respect in return.
Mess up? Fess up!
Give it another try, thank you.

-Concerned Employee
7/1/2011 3:37:37 PM
No Name
In the Negotiation News, the Swedish Bargaining Team keeps writing, "fair for all who depend on Swedish – our patients, employees and community". But doesn't Swedish rely on their employees as much as the patients, employees, and community rely on them? I think the wording could be changed, and possibly, appreciation for the employees should be shown a bit more. We do, after all, give Swedish their outstanding name.

The rest is too frustrating to even discuss. If Swedish recognized that the employees were the reason Swedish was so great, maybe they would be willing to give a little more to keep us around, and keep Swedish great.

As for the New Normal, I'm sure with Swedish growing, as it should, the New Normal will change in a matter of months, and Swedish's revenue will not be going down, but up again, and possibly higher than Swedish has seen before.
7/1/2011 12:33:49 PM
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