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.
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.
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.