SPOKANE, Wash. — Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers local 21, along with members of the Washington State Nurses Association, held an "informational picket" on Thursday afternoon about expiring contracts.

The picket made up of Providence Sacred Heart employees was held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 8th Avenue and McClellan Street.

The UFCW said that the picket was held in part due to the removal of benefits despite Providence CEO Rodney F. Hochman making a multi-million dollar salary.

"Despite making $24.4 billion last year and paying their CEO over $10 million, Providence is trying to take away the hard-earned benefits of workers, many whom have been dedicated employees for decades," the UFCW statement reads. "These proposed takeaways include: erasing millions of dollars’ worth of accrued benefits that workers have in their Sick Leave, and ongoing failure to address staffing shortages."

Jose Hernandez, a UFCW 21 member, told KREM's Tim Pham that families are suffering.

"We don't think our families should have to suffer when the corporate CEOs and management keep getting raises and don't seem to give us anything in return," Hernandez said.

Protesters said the hospital is putting patient safety at risk by replacing them with robots to watch patients and that the hospital is cutting their paid sick time.

Providence released a statement in response to the planned picket, which said that they are trying to reach an acceptable contract agreement with the unions.

Part of the statement reads:

"Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center is actively bargaining with both UFCW and WSNA labor unions. Our most important goal with each union is to reach a contract agreement that is acceptable to all parties. We are actively bargaining in good faith with both unions.

We will not comment on UFCW or WSNA’s negotiation tactics. Instead, we encourage union leaders and caregivers to focus their efforts on productively reaching agreements at the bargaining table. While we don’t feel that either union is accurately characterizing some elements of our proposals and negotiations, Providence respects that today’s activities are part of the bargaining process.

To ensure that we can continue to meet the growing needs of our communities, we must be innovative, nimble and good stewards of our resources, just as our founding Sisters of Providence were.

We do believe that our management team and our represented employees all share the same goal of providing the best possible care to our patients. We all want this to be the best place to work and the best place to go for care—when we stay focused on why we were called to serve in the health care field, we accomplish great things together."

The full statement and other information provided by providence can be found on their website.

In May, nearly 500 nurses picketed for safer conditions.

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