After productive and collaborative work with mediator Larry Fox, Swedish and SEIU reached agreement on a four (4) year labor contract. The agreement includes modest wage increases, a healthcare plan redesign, and employee health premium adjustments.
The agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by the union’s membership last night. “This has been a true team effort,” explained Swedish CEO Dr. Rod Hochman. “Both sides made compromises to come an agreement that we could all adopt. That spirit of cooperation is critical now more than ever and we are pleased to see all the hard work in mediation pay off.”
The Health Plan part of the agreement is important as Swedish has experienced 9 – 12 percent increases per year in healthcare costs. Future increase in our healthcare costs will automatically be shared between Swedish and employees through plan design changes. The new contract also allows us to manage costs with premium share for dependents on par with local competitors. In addition, there is now an employee-only premium share, which can be reduced if employees participate in a new wellness program. The new health plan will become effective on April 1, 2012 and will be introduced in the first quarter of next year. More information on the new health plan, which will include another Open Enrollment, will be provided beginning in early 2012.
Wages and Premiums includes a lump sum payment for the first year, with modest wage increases over the remainder of the contract but no changes to any premiums over the next 4 years. This will significantly help Swedish manage costs in the future and will realign us to be more competitive with the local labor market, while still providing employees a map for pay increases in an uncertain economic climate.
Pension was agreed upon as part of the entire package of benefits. Swedish and SEIU developed a compromise that allows for SEIU members who wish to remain in the defined-benefit plan that ability with a “pay to stay” component. While we recognize there are other employees not covered by the SEIU contract who were not given this option, this was the best choice because the financial concerns regarding the pension are addressed while balancing the restrictions about the defined benefit plan that were negotiated as part of the 2005 SEIU contract. Additional information regarding the defined benefit pension plan will be communicated to remaining active participants beginning in early 2012.
Other significant non-economic tentative agreements reached include:
- Improved flexibility for moving employees where and when they are needed most
- Consolidation of many existing labor management committees into one committee for all bargaining units
- Improvements and standardization of contract language addressing: job posting, employment practices, restructures, preceptor, grievance procedure, acquisitions and floating in all three agreements
- Ability for employees to transition employment between Swedish/Edmonds and Swedish Medical Center and preserve their hire dates and seniority
More detailed information on the contract will be made available in training sessions that will inform managers of the changes to the contract.
Swedish/Edmonds also ratified their RN and Pro/Tech agreements yesterday.