SPOKANE, Wash. – A large group of Providence Sacred Heart nurses marched through Riverfront Park on Tuesday as they enter their fourth day of federal mediation on a new contract.
Washington State Nurses Association leaders said they have met with Providence Sacred Heart Management 13 times, including three sessions with a federal mediator, since December 15, 2015.
Nurses began marching through the park at 8:00 a.m. starting at W. Spokane Falls Blvd. and N. Post St. More than 1,700 registered nurses are expected to attend.
WSNA leaders said they want safe nurse staffing at the hospital so they can provide high quality care to their patients. They also want predictability in their benefits, something they say the hospital has taken away.
Officials with WSNA said they have proposed that staffing levels be maintained so nurses can have meal and rest breaks. They also want nurses to be able to utilize time off from work.
Union leader said nurses have also seen retirement and medical benefits cut in recent years. They said this time Providence wants to be able to try to reduce benefits during the life of the contract.
In a statement provided to KREM 2 by Liz DeRuyter the Director of External Communications for Providence Health and Services said Sacred Heart appreciates their nursers and recognizes the crucial role they play in the quality and safety of the care the hospital provides.
The full statement is as follows:
Contract negotiations between Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) began in December 2015. We are unable to provide copies of or comment on specific proposals in negotiations since we are currently bargaining with WSNA.
We appreciate our 1,879 nurses, as they play a crucial role in the quality and safety of the care we provide at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. We look forward to continued good-faith negotiations to reach a mutual agreement.
Sacred Heart has worked hard to provide our nurses with excellent wages and benefits so that we can continue to hire the most qualified nurses and deliver exceptional health care to those who depend on us:
Wages – We believe our nurses are the highest-paid in the community – enabling us to attract the best, most qualified nurses to provide care for our patients.
- Based on recent wage data, full-time nurses at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center make between $59,000 to $109,000 annually in base wages alone.
- Base wages do not include premiums paid for things like working nights, evenings, and weekends.
Benefits – Our nurses are eligible for a choice of one of three health plans (HSA, HRA, HMO), in addition to Dental, Vision, Flexible Spending Accounts, Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance, Life Insurance, Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance, Dependent Life Insurance, and retirement savings plans.
- Sacred Heart makes contributions toward premiums for health plans, dental, vision, life insurance, LTD and retirement savings.
- We provide a $0 premium option for full-time nurses participating in our HSA medical plan.
- Additionally, we currently subsidize premium payments for dependent coverage on all of our medical plans. For example, Sacred Heart contributes $13,908 toward family coverage for nurses participating in our HRA plan.
- In 2015 for the average nurse, Sacred Heart contributed an average of $4,500 toward retirement savings.
Staffing – Sacred Heart has current contract language on staffing with which it fully complies and takes many actions in collaboration with WSNA to ensure that the hospital is appropriately staffed.
- This year alone, Sacred Heart has piloted programs to assist nurses in patient discharge, and to provide relief nurses to assist in nursing care when necessary because of higher patient volumes or particular staffing needs on a unit.
- Examples include providing staffing support in instances when nurses need to take time off for their own or a family member’s illness or nurses’ scheduled vacation time.