Special Edition Swedish Responds to SEIU Accusation of “Breaking the Law”

Special Edition Swedish Responds to SEIU Accusation of “Breaking the Law”

Last week you received a SEIU newsletter accusing Swedish of “breaking the law” and we want to set the record straight.

We have not and will not violate the law or our contract with SEIU and it is disheartening to see such blatantly misleading claims.

SEIU raised concerns during our last negotiation session that some managers were restricting employees from talking about union matters. We agreed to reiterate and clarify our long-standing policy to managers, which we have done. We were not wrong in what we communicated to managers and we never said anything to this effect at the bargaining table, as was falsely claimed in SEIU’s recent communication. We want to ensure everyone understands Swedish’s policy, so we’ve outlined it below:

First and foremost, we are here to care for our patients. While patients or customers are present, that is our only focus. Employees may discuss matters of personal interest, whether its related to the Union or how the Mariners lost another game, provided the conversation does not interfere with patient care or work duties and responsibilities. In accordance with our contract, Union organizers may meet with employees only in public areas such as the cafeteria, but not in employee lounges or work areas.

We take great pride in our commitment to fair and honest bargaining and take exception when Swedish is wrongly accused of “breaking the law.” Swedish is hopeful that the parties can now return to the work at hand: negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. The current contract has been extended through August 31 and the next bargaining session is set for August 5, there will also be several sub-committee meetings scheduled in the next few weeks.

Questions or Comments?

As always, we appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to submit questions or feedback to corporate.communications@swedish.org or here at www.swedish.org/negotiationsnews.

Michele Williams
Appreciate the communication on BOTH sides of the table to help us stay informed of what is happening. Would have like to see the examples of what we discuss outside of patient care to be positive ones. Like: "How the Mariners are doing"...not as it was stated: "how the Mariners lost another game". We have enough negativity and stress caused by negotiations that I believe information should be facts and the examples should either be neutral or positive.

Michele Williams, RN
8/5/2011 7:04:43 AM
Not buying it
Swedish has put forth a number of ideas for the Union to consider as we seek an outcome that is fair for all who rely on Swedish. Despite economic and industry challenges, Swedish is not proposing wage cuts and remains committed to being a leader in employee wages and benefits.

Some of the ideas Swedish presented to the Union to save $200 million include:

Reducing Healthcare Costs: Ideas include establishing a wellness program, incentivizing healthy behaviors; increasing healthcare cost sharing and adjusting our medical plan design to further reduce healthcare costs while ensuring the health and well being of our employees.

· Freezing the Pension: The pension is a large and unpredictable expense and with only about a quarter of Swedish employees actively able to participate in the pension program, it is not fair.

The above is from the "A Closer Look at the Valley Contract statement put out by Swedish on July 25th to its employees.

First of all it is difficult to get around the verbiage used by Swedish when they continue to frame our current negotiations in such a manner that it appears that they are attempting to pit us (the employees) against eachother. Verbiage like "What is SEIU's fair share" when discussing Swedish's proposed 200 million shortfall and what is "SEIU's" part in helping cover that shortfall. We, the employees, are who they are referring to. We are SEIU. The verbiage should read, "What is the employee's fair share?" That is in fact what they are asking. Lets talk striaght and honestly about what is being asked of us. Do not pit us against eachother or we get nowhere.

Also the claim that it is "unfair" that "only about a quarter of Swedish employees actively able to participate in the pension program", yes thanks to Swedish, who took this retirement option away from us, the employees during the last contract negotiation. At which time the "situation" was again painted as dire. The answer to their shortfall last time was to take this retirement option away from the bulk us and leave only a limited, devoted group of hard working employees who wre hired before 2007 (union employees) with this option. This "unfair" and "unpredictable" retirement benefit option is what was promised to us employees who have spent many, many hard working years here at a hospital we thought was as loyal to us as we have been to it. Now we are painted as greedy and unfair for having our pension. Not the tone we expect from the hospital we have devoted so much to.

If they are truly the best workplace they claim to be then stop with the Rhetoric. Speak truthfully and honestly about our current situation. Stop with the "New Normal" garbage. Its insulting to treat us as if we do not read the newspapaers or listen to the news.
7/31/2011 4:44:47 PM
If Swedish has always been so "fair" and caring about the employees, then one has to ask, why is there a union to beging with.
It didn't happen on it's own from the upper powers that be to tell management about employees rights to talk or ask quetions about the union, they had to be told by the union that these rights were being violated.

There is a union because things have not been fair, and yes there still are those that are afraid of asking questions about the union for fear they will be treated indifferently by their coordinator, supervisor and or manager. It's still happening and hasn't gone away.

Especially with managers who do not want the union in the department to begin with.
7/29/2011 3:11:45 PM
At safety huddle we were instructed by our manager not to discuss any union or negotiation topics at any time, except in the cafeteria or while away on break.

Nice to have some final clarification on this issue to stop any further confusion.
7/29/2011 11:21:45 AM
Myself and 2 of my coworkers were told on 7/25 that we are not allowed to talk about union issues in our work area only in the breakroom on break.
I've seen no consistency with policy and practice among the management team in our department. So I believe it could be individual Mgrs doing what they want but HR and admin have done nothing to stop it when it's reported either.
7/29/2011 1:20:31 AM
Typical Swedish behavior.
They get caught at doing something so they blame anything or anyone else for their part so the focus is off of them.

It just never stops.
7/28/2011 3:22:33 PM
I personally work in an area where the leadership and this is including a manager has been taking down Union posters. Possibly the manager is a "rouge" manager but none the less this manager has been upfront with having issues with employees have any conversations especially if the word "union" is within the conversation.

I do not feel the "accusation" is invalid since I personally work in an area that has management making efforts against unionization.
7/28/2011 12:48:41 PM
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