Swedish nurses, healthcare workers vote to authorize strike

SEATTLE -- Nurses and healthcare workers at Swedish Medical Center are threatening to strike if management does not come to the negotiating table.

The Swedish-Providence union voted to approve the strike Friday, bu they haven't announced a date of when the workers would actually go on strike. Their main concern is staffing.

One nurse on the negotiating team says the cancer center where she works is short 10 nurses, and that impacts the timeliness and quality of care each nurse can give patients.

"We know that we haven't had the time to sit down and actually talk with our patients about what's going on. It means that we wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety, that we think of something we may have forgotten," said Nurse Union negotiating team member Betsy Scott.

She says the hospital has to spend more money keeping and recruiting nurses, especially the one ones who can't afford to live in Seattle.

Scott has worked at Swedish for 38 years. She says the staffing shortage is at a crises level and she worries about having to leave the profession and her calling.

Margo Bykonen, Swedish’s chief nursing officer, disputed those claims in an interview with KUOW.

“We're not any different than any other hospital in the area,” Bykonen said. “People are struggling to try and get experienced people to come and work, not even just in Seattle, but other places in the country as well.”