Negotiation News

Final Issue - Swedish and SEIU Reach Agreement

Swedish Bargaining Team

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.

Issue 23 - Progress but no agreement yet

Swedish Bargaining Team

 SEIU and Swedish completed three days of mediation with Mediator Larry Fox. During mediation, progress was made on many of the outstanding non-economic issues including a training fund committee to increase use of the fund, support for lactating moms, and rules governing transfers between Swedish Edmonds and other Swedish campuses. Mediator Fox is cautiously optimistic that we are headed in the right direction toward a potential agreement and requested that the parties return to mediation on October 29-31. Over the next two weeks, we each committed to several sub-team meetings in an effort to continue working toward a new agreement.

Issue 22 - Swedish CEO Dr. Rod Hochman Outlines Vision for Future

Swedish Bargaining Team

Dr. Hochman joined Swedish management and SEIU yesterday morning at the negotiation table to address the recent announcement that the organization is pursuing a strategic affiliation with Providence Health and Services. After providing an overview of how this affiliation will improve health care quality, access and affordability for the residents of Western Washington, he answered a number of questions from union leadership and members of the bargaining unit.

Dr. Hochman emphasized several areas of the agreement including the fact that Swedish will retain its non-religious roots, that it will retain local control, including its relations with labor, and throughout the process will commit to the highest level of transparency with SEIU.

“We want to create the best healthcare delivery system in Western Washington,” Hochman explained, “and this partnership represents a local solution to a national problem and could become a national model on how to fix healthcare.”

Dr. Hochman noted the benefits of joining forces with Providence because of the shared mission of both organizations who already provide a staggering $205 million per year in uncompensated care and other community-benefit activities for Western Washington.

“Imagine how much more we can do – and how many more lives we can improve – by working together,” Hochman added.

Dr. Hochman underscored the fact that the affiliation is currently in the regulatory review stage and there are still many details to work out, and encouraged the parties to remain focused on reaching an agreement that will ensure the long term sustainability of Swedish since the union and Swedish have a shared and mutual interest in that goal.

More information and updates are available online at


Discussions Continue with Multiple Tentative Agreements Reached

Issue 21 - Nursing and Tech Sub-Committees Make Progress

Swedish Bargaining Team

Nursing and Tech Sub-Committees Make Progress


The Joint Labor Management Nursing Staffing Committee met today to discuss contract language. The nursing sub-committee made progress on detailing the structure of staffing committees. In addition, several tentative agreements were reached in the tech sub-committee regarding some of the sonographer positions. Other discussions included certification, surgical tech scope of practice, call-back relief and guidelines.

Discussions Continue on Many Fronts


Swedish and SEIU continued discussions on employee dependability, new hires and preceptor definitions.

Upcoming Negotiation Meetings

Issue 20 - SEIU and Swedish Bargaining Team Reach Tentative Agreement on Meal Rest Breaks

Swedish Bargaining Team

Discussions continue on employee transitions, disciplinary protocol and sick-leave notification

Today, Swedish and SEIU reached a tentative agreement on rest breaks. The tentative agreement includes Service, Tech and RNs and seeks to ensure all employees receive meal and rest periods under agreed-upon guidelines.

The tentative agreement also includes a provision that Swedish would agree to implement an electronic means for tracking missed breaks within six months of the ratification of the Agreement, with a rest break plan developed on a department-level basis within three months of ratification.

Discussions Continue on Many Fronts

Swedish and SEIU continued negotiations on several other issues including: employment transitions between Swedish Edmonds and Swedish Medical Center, disciple and discharge processes, sick-leave notification, floating work groups, and RN committees. The union also outlined questions it had about clinical grouping definitions related to the 4-week training orientation procedures, which Swedish addressed in detail during discussion.

Upcoming Negotiation Meetings

Issue 19 - SEIU and Swedish Bargaining Team Recognize Value in Upcoming Mediation Sessions

Swedish Bargaining Team

Negotiations continue on several issues with scheduled dates to move toward structured mediation process


Swedish and SEIU continued negotiations on several issues including: graduate RNs, low census, SMC and Swedish Edmonds employee transitions, and definition of the preceptor program. The union also proposed a pilot program adding two FTEs for a Lifting Education and Assistance Team (LEAT) as well as a new Joint Process Improvement Project (JPIP) with a goal of identifying and eliminating waste.

Mediation Scheduled

Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process aimed at assisting both sides at reaching agreement. Larry Fox, a labor mediation expert who has worked with Swedish and SEIU in the past to resolve issues, will lead these mediation sessions. Mediation is scheduled for October 10, 11 and 12.

Two or three bargaining sessions are also scheduled in the next few weeks. We hope to resolve most non-economic issues prior to mediation on October 10.


Questions or Comments?

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Additional Conversations with Dr. Axelrod

Swedish Bargaining Team

Last month, Swedish invited Randy Axelrod, M.D.,  a nationally recognized expert on value-based medicine and wellness to present to SEIU and our bargaining team during negotiations.

His findings focused on how Swedish could better utilize our healthcare resources.

A few weeks back, we posted the first installation of a four-video recap of Dr. Axelrod discussing his findings during a conversation with Dr. Jay Fathi. Since then, we've had several requests to see more of this discussion and have posted the second two short videos below. The final video will be posted shortly.


Episode 2
Conversations with Dr. Randy Axelrod: Swedish Employees and Preventative Care
Click here to watch. 

Episode 3
Conversations with Dr. Randy Axelrod: Drivers in Health Care Costs
Click here to watch.

Episode 1 (previously posted here)
Conversations with Dr. Randy Axelrod: Ensuring a Healthy Workforce at Swedish
Click here to watch.

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About the Author

Swedish Bargaining Team

Swedish Bargaining Team

The bargaining team will be posting regular updates. To see the team list (or see other information regarding bargaining, like the schedule, FAQs, and other resources), visit:

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