Negotiation News

Issue 7 - Swedish Responds to SEIU Proposal

Swedish Bargaining Team
 Shared Commitment to Patient Safety and Quality is a Common Theme

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.

Seeking Opportunities to Narrow the Gap
Swedish is working on its economic proposal, and it is our expectation that the discussion on economics will most likely occur at the next full bargaining session on June 21. The Union’s economic proposal, as presented, adds a significant increase to our labor costs. Swedish is still analyzing the impact of the staffing ratios proposed by the union but anticipates that the staffing proposal will also result in additional and substantial increases in labor costs.


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.

Swedish Spends $75 Million More on Wages and Benefits than Other Area Hospitals

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.

Issue 6 - Swedish Looking for a Fair and Balanced Outcome, Despite Uncertainties in the “New Normal” of Healthcare

Swedish Bargaining Team
Swedish answers questions from the Union, clears-up rumors about data and reiterates commitment to remaining a leader in wages and benefits

On Thursday, June 2, Swedish and SEIU resumed bargaining. Swedish answered questions raised by the Union in its May 25 presentation. In general, there were questions about what SEIU 1199NW is calling the “Three I’s,” Issaquah, Investments and Investors, and how these impacts can be factored into Swedish’s presentation. Swedish responded to SEIU’s questions about the “Three I’s,” which we have clarified below:

ISSAQUAH

SEIU: Issaquah will have better patient mix than First Hill, and could positively impact Swedish’s margin, so it should be included in the financial data.

Swedish: Although we hope that the patient mix and volumes will be better at Issaquah as compared to our other facilities, the payor mix is still unknown. We also anticipate that Issaquah volumes may initially negatively impact volumes at our other hospitals. It takes time for new facilities to generate revenue. Both Redmond and Mill Creek are still several months away from the breakeven point but this was expected and planned for.

INVESTMENTS

SEIU: Swedish’s investments should be considered as part of the margin discussion, to provide a truer picture of Swedish’s financial situation.

Swedish: Swedish and SEIU have a philosophical difference on this issue. Swedish does not believe that we should be tapping into our investments, which is the same as our savings account, to cover monthly operating expenses. Our savings are critical to our financial standing, which is one of the most important things rating agencies look at when assessing our financial health. We are dedicated to being fiscally responsible stewards for the organization, and as such, we are committed to maintaining our savings.

INVESTORS

Issue 5 - Swedish Presents to SEIU 1199NW

Swedish Bargaining Team

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.

Issue 4 - SEIU Continues to Present Proposals

Swedish Bargaining Team

Proposals on economics, low census fund and EVS staffing

Swedish and SEIU 1199NW continued contract negotiations on Tuesday, May 17. SEIU 1199NW presented their economic proposal as well as several new articles and changes to existing language. A number of the recommendations were aimed at creating more similarities among the three contracts.

The Union walked through their proposal and provided testimonials to address a variety of issues affecting RNs, technical staff and service workers including:

Issue 3 - SEIU Presents Majority of Their Proposal

Swedish Bargaining Team

 SEIU Presents Majority of Their Proposal

Continued theme of collaboration and reinforces efficiency, quality and satisfaction

Yesterday, Swedish and SEIU 1199NW continued contract negotiations. SEIU 1199NW presented the majority of their proposal for changes to language in the contract and will present the rest of their proposal including an economic proposal on Tuesday, May 17. In addition to the economic proposal, the Union expects to make four to six additional proposals including such topics as low census fund at Issaquah, calculating hours, neutrality and other groups joining the Union.

The Union walked through their proposal and provided testimonials to address a variety of issues affecting RNs, technical staff and service workers including:

Issue 2 - Opening bargaining sessions kicks off on positive, collaborative note

Swedish Bargaining Team
 Opening bargaining sessions kicks off on positive, collaborative note

Yesterday, Swedish and SEIU 1199NW kicked-off contract negotiations that will focus on wages, benefits and other issues for RN’s, technical staff and service workers at the Teamsters’ headquarters in Tukwila. SEIU and Swedish’s bargaining teams conducted introductions and then Diane Sosne gave a presentation that identified common goals and challenges highlighting the potential for collaboration and made the remark that “if we have been successful before we can do it again.”

In its opening presentation, SEIU 1199NW pointed to a number of external factors impacting their members, including the economy, healthcare reform and an aging workforce. Many of these same issues also impact Swedish; thereby creating an overlap in some of our respective interests.

The opening presentation called out many of the areas where Swedish and SEIU have worked together to achieve success, including:

Issue 1 - Contract negotiations with SEIU begin this week

Swedish Bargaining Team

Contract negotiations between Swedish and SEIU 1199NW starts this week. In these negotiations, Swedish is seeking a fair and balanced outcome for all. Look to Negotiations News for updates throughout the bargaining process.

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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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