Issue 5 - Swedish Presents to SEIU 1199NW

Issue 5 - Swedish Presents to SEIU 1199NW

Focused on a Fair and Balanced Outcome 

On Wednesday, May 25, Swedish presented an overview of its approach to the current contract negotiations. The presentation focused on the dramatic shift in the healthcare landscape and its impacts on Swedish and all who rely on us – our patients, employees and community. June Altaras, Nurse Executive at Swedish’s First Hill campus and Joanne Suffis, Vice President for Human Resources, presented to the Union.

Our continued commitment to all who rely on Swedish - our patients, employees and community - in the “new normal” of healthcare

Changes in the way hospitals are paid, healthcare reform and the economy have hurt Swedish’s financial stability. As part of this trend, Swedish has seen a dramatic increase in patients with government insurance (Medicaid and Medicare), which pays Swedish 50 percent less than patients with private insurance. Swedish has also seen an increase in patients with no insurance. The results of these trends mean we have less money to run Swedish. Unfortunately, these changes are not going away – these changes are not temporary – this is the “new normal” in healthcare.

The impact of this “new normal” on Swedish’s financial stability is dramatic. If Swedish does nothing and continues to follow this current path through 2014, we will spend more money than we bring in with a projected loss of more than $247 million.


% Margin






What must we do in order to ensure a thriving future for Swedish?

Doing nothing is not an option if we want to ensure a thriving future for Swedish. We must work together with SEIU to identify significant opportunities for expense reductions to reverse this trend. Over the next three years, Swedish needs to reduce expenses by more than $200 million.








Important Expense Reductions Already in Place

Over the past few years Swedish has taken dramatic steps to find and implement opportunities for expense reductions.





  • We’ve already reduced expenses by more than $30 million by:
    • Eliminating 170 non-contractual employees
    • Freezing pensions for non-union employees and moved to a generous 401K retirement plan
    • Reducing supply spending
  • And we’ve identified projected expense reductions of $60 million through the following efforts:
    • Clinical documentation improvement
    • Clinical economics such as standardization of clinical tools and supplies
    • Bringing billing in house


Continuing to be a Leader in Employee Wages and Benefits

Swedish is proud to be a leader in employee wages and benefits. We want to continue this leadership with wages and benefits, but we need to narrow the gap between what we offer and what other hospitals offer to remain financially stable. Although the five percent difference between what we offer our employees and what other hospitals offer their employees may not sound like a lot, it is; five percent equals $75 million.

Seattle-area Hospital Comparison Salaries, Wages and Benefits



What’s Next? Working to Together to Identify SEIU’s Fair Share

Negotiations will continue throughout the month of June. As part of contract negotiations, we will be asking SEIU 1199NW to contribute their fair share in finding savings to ensure a thriving future for Swedish. We look forward to presenting several options of possible solutions to SEIU 1199NW at a future bargaining session. Swedish will not be looking for base wage cuts, but seeks a fair and balanced outcome for all who rely on Swedish – our patients, employees and community.

We welcome your feedback. Look for updates in future issues of Negotiation News or here at, where you can learn the latest about the negotiations and ask questions or make comments about the process.


Melissa Tizon
Lots of comments about our CEO’s salary, so thought I’d chime in about this. While it is true that his compensation is substantial, our Board of Trustees follows established rules and policies to assure his pay is reasonable and inline with other tax-exempt health systems of our size nationally and locally. In addition, he is not the highest paid hospital CEO in Seattle. The latest published report lists him as No. 8 locally. Smaller hospitals, such as Valley and VM, pay their CEOs more than we do.
6/3/2011 4:43:29 PM
The ceo salary isnt gonna close a huge budget gap, however it doesnt look good in the eyes of any employee when they get a huge bonus and we the employees have to fight for a bassic cost of living raise,medical coverage,which seams odd since we work at a medical facility, and a solid retirement plan for our years of service. This is a gross disparity in pay scale differences. Its not the bonus itself , its the size with a slap in thee face of everyone trying to make ends meet. Im sure our CEO isnt struggling to put food on the table,pay thier mortage,and now days put fuel in the car. I think it shows a disconect to the work force. Its sad that numbers can be manipulated many ways to show either good or bad as needed. Swedish hires lawyers for agressive negotiations and we have volunteers that have to use vacation just to attend the negotiations. Sadly its turning into US vs Them. Not what we want.
6/2/2011 10:20:12 PM
Melissa Tizon
Also anon, thank you for the post. Your comment makes me realize we need to do a better job of explaining the importance of having a good credit score with the bond rating agencies and what we need to demonstrate as an organization to maintain good credit. Perhaps we can do that in a future post. We can also post more information about how the Board of Trustees determines executive compensation. They go through a very thorough process, and that’s something we want to be transparent about.
5/31/2011 9:50:46 AM
also anon
This is a dishonest communucation and graph. When Swedish WANTS money (investers/bond rating agencies/donors) we are "doing great!" But when It comed time to support our front line workers we are in "dire straits" and need to cut the budget by $200 million.

So which is it? Did Swedish lie to the bond rating agency or to its employees?

BTW, how much of the $200million we need to save is going to come out of the CEO's salary?
5/27/2011 6:19:06 PM
Melissa Tizon
Thank you for the comment. I’m the communications director for Swedish and wanted to respond by letting you know that we wholeheartedly agree about the need to invest in the people who work here. We remain committed to offering a leading wage and benefits package for our employees. Our approach to these contract negotiations is to work collaboratively with SEIU to reach a fair outcome for all.
5/26/2011 6:57:30 PM
Its very concerning that Swedish paints a picture of dire straights for its employee's,yet when it comes to obtaining bonds, buying other hospitals, and construction swedish is doing great! So good lets spend onother 30 million on ballard. Well how about the people that make Swedish run? Our cafeteria discount, christmas bonus, and just basic silverware for staff to eat with? Oh wait there goes another bonus to the top. For what? Making it harder for Swedishes back bone of employee's harder to pay the bills.
5/26/2011 2:26:08 PM
Leave comment

 Security code