Statement regarding informational picketing at Swedish

June 30, 2015
Swedish is currently in contract negotiations with SEIU 1199NW, the union that represents approximately 6,800 R.N.s, technicians and service workers at Swedish Medical Center and Swedish Edmonds. Today, the union is conducting informational picketing at Swedish. This is not a strike, and staffing for patient care should not be impacted at any of our campuses.

Swedish investing heavily in staffing
The union has been making inaccurate claims that Swedish refuses to invest in more staff. While SEIU has a national political agenda around the staffing issue and is using the exact same campaign message with every hospital, the reality is that the situation is very different at Swedish.

“We are investing heavily in staffing and actively hiring 1,600 new permanent staff this year to support current teams, ensure a strong future for our organization and get ahead of the nursing shortage, which is expected to hit in 2020. Our opening wage and benefits offer is designed to retain current staff and attract new talent,” said June Altaras, R.N., M.S.N., Swedish acute care chief executive.

$110 million invested back into operations, including hiring, wages and benefits
It is true that Swedish had a successful year in 2014 with an operating margin of $110 million. But it’s important to note that this is not the case every year, and Swedish has experienced its share of challenges in the recent past. Swedish does not have shareholders. Annual operating margins are invested back into operations to support the hiring of new caregivers, facility and equipment needs and other community services.

Swedish opening offer designed to recruit and retain
Swedish presented an opening wage and benefits offer that is designed to retain current staff and attract new talent. The proposal includes:

  • Wages*: 9.5-11% increase over three years for Swedish Medical Center and 14.5%-16.5% over four years for Swedish Edmonds
  • Medical: Two new choices of plans for caregivers
  • Pension: Continuation for those currently enrolled
  • 401(k): Increased employer match
  • Training fund: More than $2.3 million provided by Swedish annually

Swedish wants to get back to the bargaining table
“Though SEIU is picketing our hospitals today and has a right to do so, it is time to start seriously negotiating a deal that supports our caregivers and the communities we serve. Contracts need to be bargained at the table, not in the streets,” Altaras said. “We all share the same goal of making sure we continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care to our communities and Swedish remains committed to negotiating in good faith with the union.”

The labor contracts expired yesterday, June 30. Swedish is currently working with SEIU to schedule additional bargaining sessions in July and August. More information is available on the Swedish Negotiation News website: www.swedish.org/negotiation-news.

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*A note about minimum wage

Though the current minimum wage for the City of Seattle is $11 per hour, all Swedish employees make more than that today. In fact, 99.51% of staff at Swedish Medical Center and 98.75% of staff at Swedish Edmonds make more than $15 per hour – even though the city’s $15 requirement does not go into effect until 2017. While this issue is part of SEIU’s political agenda, Swedish is already way ahead of the curve.

Swedish Medical Center current average wage:

  • Average nurse $42.20 per hour/$87,776 per year
  • Average technician $36.70 per hour/$76,357 per year
  • Average service worker $21.10 per hour/$43,888 per year

Swedish Edmonds current average wage:

  • Average nurse $42.15 per hour/ $87,672
  • Average "pro-tech" $26.65 per hour/$55,390 (professional, technical, skilled maintenance and service employees)