RICHLAND, WA - More than 800 nursing assistants, radiology techs, dietary and housekeeping staff, certified surgical technologists, and more at Kadlec Regional Medical Center voted on April 19-20 to unite in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the statewide union of nearly 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers. The caregivers cited the impact of Providence’s takeover of their facility and the need for a voice in staffing, wages, and benefits as driving the decision to form a union.
“In the 20 plus years I’ve been a mammography tech I’ve tried to treat all my patients and co-workers with kindness and respect,” said Bertha Montes, a Lead Mammography Technologist. “Over the last few months I’ve given my time and part of myself to help form this union. I believe that when we come together we can have a positive influence on the community, each other, and our patients.”
The workers have been forming their union for more than six months. A committee of worker-volunteer organizers talked with their coworkers about the need for a voice in our changing healthcare industry. Employees are looking forward to making improvements. The vote was decisive with a large 422 to 297 voting in favor of the union.
“I have such a rewarding job, get to witness new life come in to this world and have the opportunity to take care of the mothers and newborns of this community,” said Rachel Luna, an OB Tech from the Birth Center. “The work we do at our community hospital isn’t easy and we want to be treated with respect. I stood up with my co-workers and team to form a union at Kadlec because I’m ready to move forward. We’ve seen changes in recent years that didn’t work for staff and patients and now we will have all come together for positive change.
The caregivers join the more than 17,000 other SEIU Healthcare 1199NW members working at Providence facilities including St. Peter in Olympia, St. Joseph in Chewelah, Home Health Care and Hospice of Snohomish County, SoundHomeCare and Hospice of Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties, and Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
The caregivers will now identify bargaining priorities and elect a bargaining committee to negotiate a first contract.
Kadlec released the following statement in response to the union vote:
"We respect the right of our caregivers to be represented by a union. We are proud of the culture we have built with our employees and are united with them in our mission of providing safe, compassionate care to the patients we serve."