Kadlec union rallies for better working conditions - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kadlec union rallies for better working conditions

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RICHLAND, WA - If you noticed people picketing at Kadlec in Richland today, here's why.

A little over a year ago, 800 healthcare workers at Kadlec voted to form their own union. They say since Providence has taken over, they feel like they need a voice when it comes to their wages and benefits.

Earlier on Wednesday the union held a rally, and they held another one Wednesday evening. They're out to say "we work hard to take care of our community, but we also need to be taken care of."

They've been bargaining with Providence on things like better wages, paid time off, sick leave, and to draw up a contract that's acceptable in their eyes. They are also fed up with the fact that they don't have the same standards as other Providence Health Care centers.

For example, when Providence took over, they docked a week of vacation time from employees. When we spoke with a Kadlec employee of 23 years, she says that's a big part of why they were out there.

A lot of people might not realize how stressful their jobs can be, so in order to keep the community healthy, they need to be given the time to take care of themselves.

"To be able to have a living wage and to be able to have enough sick time and enough vacation time to deal with some of the stress that working in a health care facility brings on the staff," explained Becky Strode, a telemetry monitor technician at Kadlec. "A week doesn't seem like a lot to most people, but it can be if it means the difference between being with your family or taking the rest that you need to be able to do a good job."

Kadlec did respond to the picket today, saying they are negotiating a first labor contract and making good progress. They said the parties are starting from scratch and that first contracts usually take longer to negotiate.

They go on to say they look forward to continuing discussions with the union and they will be holding another session coming up on May 16.