Negotiation News

Issue 18 - SEIU Acknowledges that Swedish Must Adapt to Changing and Challenging Circumstances

Swedish Bargaining Team
 SEIU Acknowledges that Swedish Must “Adapt to Changing and Challenging Circumstances”

Today, SEIU NW1199’s chief spokesperson recognized the financial strain Swedish is under as the hospital works to find solid footing in the industry’s ‘new normal’ environment. In bargaining, SEIU acknowledged that Swedish must “adapt to changing and challenging circumstances.”

This acknowledgement came shortly after Dr. Hochman distributed an all-employee email, which addressed Swedish’s serious and immediate financial challenges. The letter also outlined the urgent steps needed by all departments and managers to continue immediate course correction strategies. Swedish’s bargaining team provided SEIU leadership a copy of the memo during bargaining. The full letter can be read here.

SEIU also identified four “ways to adapt” that could help Swedish address its current financial challenges:

  1. Growth: Edmonds and Issaquah
  2. Well-performing investments
  3. Limiting labor costs: Reducing the cost of health care
  4. Process improvement and efficiencies: Partnering to include front-line staff

Both Sides Continue Discussion on Outstanding Issues

Issue 17 - Special Edition - Using an Informed Approach to Ensure a Healthier Workforce

Swedish Bargaining Team

Using an Informed Approach to Ensure a Healthier Workforce

Swedish employees and their dependents receive some of the most generous healthcare benefits in the region. For many years, Swedish has paid close to 100% of all employees’ healthcare benefits. As a healthcare provider we value the health and well being of our workforce; however, as healthcare utilization and costs continue to rise, we must take a hard look at how we can control our own medical plan.

At a recent bargaining session, Swedish brought in Dr. Randy Axlerod, a national expert on medical plans, to share the findings of his research that looked at how Swedish could begin to better utilize our healthcare resources. The findings were shocking. We wanted to give all Swedish employees the opportunity to see Dr. Axelrod present his research findings with Dr. Jay Fathi. We are posting short videos of some of Dr; Axelrod’s findings on the Negotiation News website and you can click here to watch online.

Puget Sound Business Journal reports on the Current Economic Crisis Facing Seattle area Hospitals

On Friday, July 29, the Puget Sound Business Journal published a comprehensive look at the financial crisis Swedish and other Puget Sound regional hospitals are experiencing. The article discussed some of the issues we’ve raised in the previous Negotiation News posts such as the impact of growing Medicare enrollees, combined with fewer private insurance enrollees, decreasing state support, increasing treatment of uninsured patients as well as the increasing costs to provide healthcare to employees and their dependents. The article includes quotes from Swedish management and union leadership; both acknowledging that employee benefit costs are “unsustainable” and need to be addressed in the new contract.

If you have not had a chance to read this article, we’ve included a link for you here: click here to see the PDF.

Issue 16 - SEIU Economic Counter Proposal Continues to Add Millions

Swedish Bargaining Team

More Work Needed by SEIU to find Their Fair Share of $200 Million in Cost Savings

SEIU presented their economic counter proposal, continuing to disregard the challenging economic reality Swedish is facing. The Union’s counter proposal only reduces their original wage increases by one percent in year’s two and three, which is nowhere close to a fair share. Swedish looks forward to seeing a realistic economic proposal from SEIU that puts forward a shared attempt at savings, not significant cost increases.

Swedish Proposes Processes to Ensure Employee Rest Breaks

SEIU responded to Swedish’s rest break proposal by recognizing the proactive attempt by management to ensure that all employees get their much deserved rest breaks. The goal of Swedish’s proposal is to create a procedure to ensure that all employees get their rest breaks while ensuring the best quality patient care. There is no “one size fits all” policy because various units and departments need the flexibility to find the right solution and practice for their unit.

Additional Proposals to Clarify Language and Update Contracts

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

Swedish Bargaining Team

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.

A Closer Look at the Valley Contract

Swedish Bargaining Team

A Closer Look is a new publication aimed to provide a deeper look into some of the issues important to Swedish and our employees. As Swedish and SEIU are involved in contract negotiations around wages, benefits and other issues for RNs, technical staff and service workers, it is important to provide more in-depth information about some of the issues and topics that surface as a result of negotiations.

Swedish, along with other healthcare organizations, is facing some of the toughest economic times in recent history. The perfect storm of the recession and healthcare reform have redefined our financial environment and for the foreseeable future, it will be our “New Normal.” As a result, Swedish must find $200 million in savings over the next three years. The business decisions we will make, as well as our SEIU contract proposals across all areas, reflect this “New Normal” and its impact on our ability to remain financially stable.

Issue 14 - Swedish Workforce Gets Failing Grade on Use of its Health Care Plan According to Expert and Health Care Costs are Unsustainable and Need Immediate Course Correction

Swedish Bargaining Team

On Tuesday, July 19, Swedish invited Randy Axelrod, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on value-based medicine and wellness to present to the Union and bargaining team during negotiations. Dr. Axelrod recently finished a comprehensive analysis of Swedish’s health plan, as well as employee use of the plan. His review included more than four years of medical and pharmacy claims and more than 2,000,000 claims – and the results are startling

Watch CFO Jeff Veilleux Presenting on the "New Normal"

Swedish Bargaining Team

This video was taken of Swedish’s chief financial officer Jeff Veilleux while he presented a more in-depth look at Swedish’s finances at the July 12 Manager’s Meeting. It is the same presentation that was given to SEIU 1199NW on July 7. The presentation provides more detail about the current healthcare industry and economic landscape and its impact on Swedish, which we’ve been calling the “New Normal.”

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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: http://swedish.org/landing-pages/negotiation-news#Bargaining_Team

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