Hundreds of nurses picket for better pay and working conditions

EVERETT, Wash. -- More than 200 nurses and caregivers picketed outside Providence Hospice and Homecare of Snohomish County in Everett Tuesday morning for better pay and working conditions.

“We love our patients, and that’s why we have to take a stand,” said Lee Thompson, a nurse in Home Health Care. “Providence is not giving us the time we need with our patients, nor the time we need with our own families.”

They also added they are concerned about heavy caseloads, long on-call hours, pay and benefits.

"While today’s informational picketing outside our facility has no impact on patient care, we are disappointed the union has chosen this option as we prefer to get back to the bargaining table," Mary Beth Walker, a spokeswoman for Providence Senior and Community Services said.

Adding, "Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County remains committed to negotiating in good faith with SEIU 1199NW on the facility’s first labor contract. Our goal is to develop an agreement that benefits our caregivers, as well as the community we serve. While we’ve made progress in some areas, we still have additional items to discuss."

The caregivers formed their union with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW in 2016 and have been bargaining for a first contract that would improve staff recruitment and retention and would reduce unmanageable workloads.  Providence management has refused to make improvements that would invest in care and caregivers.

“The Sisters of Providence inspired us to the Core Values of Justice, Stewardship, Excellence, Respect, and Compassion,” said April Frazier, a Chaplain. “I think the Sisters would be deeply saddened and appalled to see what has happened after they turned over the management of their Providence ministries to the current leadership. Providence makes unprecedented profits from the care we give, yet at the same time, we are not allowed the adequate resources so we can provide the highest quality care for our patients and families.”

Some caregivers report not having the time they need to fully comfort patients and their families, while Chaplains report a system of being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Yet the caregivers persist, committed to their patients.

“Mother Joseph founded Providence for a mission, the people,” said Sister Helen Brennan, a Sister of Providence.  “That’s why we’re here today.”

While caregivers continue to negotiate with Providence, they remain committed to standing up and speaking out publicly for better care.