Shared Commitment to Patient Safety and Quality is a Common Theme
On Tuesday, June 7, Swedish responded to many SEIU proposals. A number of the proposals were aimed at bringing the RN, Service and Tech contracts into closer alignment. In addition, there were more substantive proposals from the Union around sick time and breaks, which will continue to be discussed at future sessions as we work toward finding a fair and balanced outcome for all who rely on Swedish – our patients, employees and community.
Some of the topics addressed during today’s bargaining session included:
- Meal and rest periods
- Rest between shifts
- Department openings and transfers
- Annual leave / annual leave scheduling
- Sick time
Both Swedish and the Union have proposals regarding preceptors and the low census fund on the bargaining table.
Seeking Opportunities to Narrow the Gap
Swedish is working on its economic proposal, and it is our expectation that the discussion on economics will most likely occur at the next full bargaining session on June 21. The Union’s economic proposal, as presented, adds a significant increase to our labor costs. Swedish is still analyzing the impact of the staffing ratios proposed by the union but anticipates that the staffing proposal will also result in additional and substantial increases in labor costs.
The economics are particularly challenging. Swedish needs to reduce operating expenses by $200 million over the next three years and has asked for SEIU to partner with us on determining where we can reduce their fair share of expenses. Swedish is not proposing base wage cuts, and is committed to remaining a leader in wages and benefits. However, we need to narrow the gap between what Swedish offers in terms of pay and benefits and what other hospitals offer so that we can remain financially stable while still providing leading wages and benefits.
Swedish Spends $75 Million More on Wages and Benefits than Other Area Hospitals
The chart below was created from data submitted by area hospitals to the Washington Department of Health (DOH). Each year, DOH gathers information that compares the percentage of all expenses that are utilized for employee wages and benefits. While there are some differences in terms of what is included in the data from each hospital (i.e. some hospitals, like Virginia Mason, employ all of their physicians, thus increasing their percentage), the average percentage spent on wages and benefits at other local independent hospitals is substantially less than Swedish.