Elected officials join Swedish Edmonds workers on informational picket line

SEIU members march in an informational picket along 76th Avenue West and through the Swedish Edmonds hospital campus.

An estimated 60 health care workers from Swedish-Edmonds took to the streets on Thursday to publicly air their claims, chief among them that providing the best quality care is no longer the organization’s top priority, having been replaced by executive pay, profits and expansion. The workers are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and have been working without a contract since July 30.

In what was described as an informational picket, the marchers chanted slogans and talked with passersby along 76th Avenue West, proceeding through the hospital campus to Highway 99.

Marchers were of all ages.

“We’re here to fight for safe patient care, equitable wages and racial justice,” said spokesperson Whittney Powers, who has worked for the past two years in the Swedish-Edmonds emergency room. “We see Swedish prioritizing profit over safe patient care, and we’re concerned about the negative effects of this on us, the patients and the community.  Today we hope to raise awareness of the need to ensure safe patient care through maintaining appropriate ratios of caregivers, safe staffing levels, wages and benefits that will recruit and maintain top-quality staff, and racial justice, equity and respect for all.”

Joining the picket line in support of the workers was 21st District State Rep. Strom Peterson, Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Edmonds City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Mike Nelson, and Edmonds City Council candidates Alicia Crank, Laura Johnson and Jenna Nand. Nelson is also Executive Director of the SEIU Leadership Council 14, also known as SEIU Washington State Council, where according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission he has lobbied on behalf of the union since 2012.

“I’m here today to stand with our health care workers who are trying to provide the best care for our citizens and family members,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, we are at an impasse now with hospital administration, which is detrimental to our patients. Reduced staffing and longer hours mean less efficient and effective care.”

21st District State Rep. Strom Peterson and Edmonds City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Mike Nelson were on hand to lend their support to the marchers.

In a written statement released Aug. 22, Swedish stressed that it is negotiating “in good faith,” and affirmed its commitment to work with the union to reach agreements that accomplish what it says are the “shared goals of providing competitive wages and benefits for our caregivers and ensuring we continue to provide affordable, high-quality care that our patients expect and deserve.”

In addition, Swedish maintains a Negotiation News website to keep caregivers, patients and the community informed.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

27 Replies to “Elected officials join Swedish Edmonds workers on informational picket line”

  1. My extensive experience with Stevens transitioning to Swedish and now owned by Providence is that the employees are exactly right. The hospital’s focus has shifted from the patients being the priority to the bottom line being the priority.

    Ignored

    1. Just like Edmonds Family Health, who threw out Medicare patients. But bottom-line vs actual health care – and support of health care workers – is a pressing national issue, not just a local one. Quality of life vs. profits…

      Ignored

    2. “We’re here to fight for safe patient care, equitable wages and racial justice”. That’s quite the sandwich. Swedish is not safe, Swedish is not paying us enough, Swedish is racist. Something tells me that Swedish could make all the racist and unsafe claims go away if they just put some more meat in the sandwich. Swedish, pay those guys more and give them something better to do than this. Embarrassing.

      Ignored

    1. I don’t know if they’re racist. They do have an enormous number of foreign-born employees; perhaps that’s simply representative of the qualified potential employees available.

      Ignored

  2. The Unions are the mechanism to mobilize these politicians … “It’s about knowing which side your bread is buttered on.”

    Ignored

  3. “Health care workers” receive more than one TRILLION dollars a year in subsidies from Medicare and Medicaid alone. The health care system is a bloated socialist monster. The workers are overpaid, not underpaid. Also, if they don’t like their jobs, they are free to quit. And bogus claims of racism are so trite and hackneyed that nobody needs to take that stuff seriously anymore. PS – SEIU is the union Mike Nelson worked for when SEIU got hammered for $250,000 in fines for illegal campaign tactics. And now he’s picketing for SEIU while running for Edmonds Mayor. SEIU owns him. Vote accordingly.

    Ignored

  4. For details on salaries in the Swedish system, see https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Swedish-Medical-Center/salaries

    Registered Nurse $65, 822 per year
    Nursing Assistant $16.64 per hour
    Registered Nurse Case Manager $76,431 per year
    Housekeeper $16.64 per hour
    Floor Technician $13.00 per hour
    Patient Transporter $11.00 per hour
    Surgical Technician $48, 873 per year

    Working conditions: https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Swedish-Medical-Center/reviews?fcountry=ALL&ftopic=paybenefits

    “The average Swedish Medical Center executive compensation is $152,821 a year.The median estimated compensation for executives at Swedish Medical Center including base salary and bonus is $152,118, or $73 per hour. At Swedish Medical Center, the most compensated executive makes $450,000, annually, and the lowest compensated makes $30,000. “(https://www.comparably.com/companies/swedish-medical-center/executive-salaries)

    I guess workers can quit if they don’t like the salary, but I’d prefer to pay my medical people well enough to keep them, and to attract the best. If two anecdotes may be allowed, one doctor I know quit doctoring because of the stress; another retreated to private practice to avoid the rush to see too many people in too short a time in order to keep profits up.

    The health care system in a bloated, top-heavy and inefficient runaway capitalist system where the patient is little more than consumer, to me milked for as much as possible. And that’s not even to discuss the pharmaceutical system.

    I’ll leave discussion of the election to others, but it seems off topic.

    Ignored

    1. What hospital is more safe, pays people more, and is less racist? Nathaniel, cant you just get healthcare there? Why does Swedish need to change for your liking?

      Ignored

  5. Did SEIU contribute to the campaign coffers of the picketing Politicos? We know that they did to Mike Nelson, who is running for Mayor! hm-m-m-m-m Virtue Signaling ??

    Ignored

    1. Healthcare is regulated by the state. It’s absolutely bizarre for a regulator to protest. Say the hospital was someday in real regulatory trouble and the administrators were under subpoena, the hospital could point to Strom Peterson picketing outside of their facility as demonstrable animus. Strom should kick off a Congressional inquiry, or get Bob Fergusson involved, if Swedish is really unsafe or racist.

      I would fire and sue any worker who falsely accused my business of being unsafe or racist, especially if it were because they wanted more pay. I take my kids to Swedish. I had a healthcare issue last year and thought the service I got was very affordable, paid cash. Strom and Nelson need to be asked directly; do you believe Swedish is unsafe or racist? Theres no nuance in a protest, there shouldnt be any nuance in their answer.

      Ignored

  6. I just recently had an unexpected trip to the Swedish E.R. and the treatment I received was exemplary in my opinion. They were obviously on the ball and genuinely concerned about my well being. On top of that they seamlessly transferred my information to my personal physician at Kaiser Permanente for follow up the next week. This was an example of a for profit health operation cooperating efficiently with a not for profit health operation for the benefit of the patient. I was very pleasantly surprised by this cooperation and the example of how things should work in a good health care system. My personal preference is for the non-profit approach as I think you tend to get people in those systems who are genuinely interested more in what they do than how much they make for what they are doing.

    I was once referred out of the Group Health (now Kaiser) system for an elective surgery thru the Everett Clinic System and a for profit surgeon ending up in what I could only describe as an orthopedic surgery mill designed to make the surgeon and the clinic as much money as possible. A dozen people including myself were sitting in a waiting room in hospital gowns waiting to go under the knife in an assembly line process. Due to an irregular heartbeat (I had even previously told them about having) they declined to operate on me at the last minute, thank God. The condition I was going to have “fixed” surgically later basically disappeared on it’s own. If you prefer for profit health care go for it. I’ll take the outfit that tries to avoid unneeded and over priced procedures as much as possible.

    I see the anti union faithful have pretty much jumped into this thread to spread the evils of Mr. Nelson being pro union and not good for our little bastion of conservatism and anti Socialism. It’s his current job to support these people. If he wins, maybe he will support all us overtaxed payers with equal enthusiasm. One can hope.

    Ignored

    1. I am former Teamster, and support many Unions. I think Labor should have a seat at the table, but should not try to eat the whole dinner. Wild accusations about being racist are not good labor negotiations tactics nor are they acceptable politics. Oh, and it’s not because of conservatism or anti Socialism.

      Ignored

      1. Allen, agreed. My grandfather’s union, my uncle’s union, my cousin’s union, my best friend’s union, none have ever stood outside of their own job and picketed, for what seems to be no tangible reason no less. A protest is supposed to be a nuclear option. This isn’t typical union behavior. Dropping a bomb isn’t “information”.

        Ignored

        1. Isn’t one of the union’s complaints insufficient staff? In 2016 my wife spent 7 weeks at Swedish and in 2018 she was there 2 weeks. My observation was that there very definitely was not enough staff at many times during the periods of her stays there. The workers are demonstrating because they evidently cannot get management’s attention to rectify the situation.

          Ignored

        2. Ron. The Dennys in Lynnwood might be under staffed. I’ve never seen an organization understaffed also have so much time to protest. We’re become used to protests these days so I’m guessing that racism is lumped in to help get attention.

          Ignored

  7. When someone feels the need to tell me what something Isn’t about, I figure there’s about a 99.9% probability that I hit on exactly what it is about. Sort of like when an Edmonds politician tells you “it’s not about the building heights ” you can be pretty sure that’s exactly what it’s about. Or if someone says “to tell you the truth ” you can be pretty sure you aren’t getting the truth or the whole truth about whatever it is.

    Ignored

  8. Is this about the hospital, subject of these comments? Or about your constant state of pessimism, negativity, and thinking you have all the answers.

    Ignored

  9. Alluding to my previous comments I left another thing out. Whenever someone feels they have to go to great lengths to inform you how they aren’t racist, you can be pretty sure they are racist to at least some extent. Real evidence of being racist or non racist is almost always based on actions, not words. Words are merely used to motivate actions or non actions on the part of others. Words can be both powerful and dangerous, just like actions, but actions always reveal more about actual truth.

    Ignored

    1. You seem to bloviate in your opinions after everyone’s comment. Your insinuations have reached the “bullying” level.

      Ignored

      1. Some of us do talk at length but in this case I do not see it to be in a pompous or bullying way. We can if we choose just “ignore” anyone who we do not want to follow. I like to hear lots of view points. Our goal on MEN can be to share ideas, concerns, hopes for Edmonds.

        Ignored

        1. Darrol, while I appreciate your efforts to defend your friend, your suggestion for me to “ignore” Clinton is almost as bad as telling me that my opinion is not to be heard. That will not be happening. Clinton had, what one commenter referred to as a tantrum, after announcing in print that he would be ignoring 3 different people, he did not ignore them but came back to bloviate once again towards the man who called him out, was then ridiculed, asking if he was happy and satisfied. So thanks for your “good old boy” suggestion, but I too have an opinion. I understand if anyone takes a different stand or view we are subject to “blow back”, and thought twice about commenting knowing how Clinton always hits back, but in my opinion it has been getting very pointed and the “racists” comment that “Whenever someone feels they have to go to great lengths to inform you how they aren’t racists, you can be pretty sure they are racists to at least some extent.” This is an inflammatory statement in itself, and is made to call someone a racist, even if they say they are not, it is not adding to dialog; it is just a damned if you, damned if you don’t statement and a thinly veiled bullying tactic. Your statement “our goal on MEN can be to share ideas, concerns, hopes for Edmonds”, would certainly include MY “concerns” I would hope, or perhaps it is just for the “heavy” commenters “who talk in length”? Quite frankly, I am disappointed that you took it upon yourself to tell me to “ignore” that which I was commenting about. Just “sit down, and shut up lil lady”? Only the men can give strong opinions and make accusations at others? Amazing, is it 2019, or 1959?

          Ignored

  10. Linda Mae, Ouch! I think you hit the nail on the head “lil lady”! You are owed an apology. Maybe MEN, could be changed to WOMEN (We “O” My Edmonds News).

    Ignored

  11. Linda, I SINCERELY, apologize (as per Martin’s suggestion) for not adding more words my statement above. To be clear I am not trying in this remark to counter what you have said or do anything to inflame the situation. You have a right to express your opinion and I said that. I have re-read my statement several times and stand behind them as stated. I just should have been more clear. My point was after doing the research on the definition of “bloviate” I did not see Clint’s remarks to be “pompous or bullying”. My second point about “ignore” was to say “We” all have that capability and was not directed at you! Ignoring anyone would not really be telling someone to “sit down and shut up ….” (I do not even want to complete your quote for just typing it would be condescending.) I said nothing I can see that would suggest only men can offer opinions. I even said “I like to hear lots of view points. Our goal on MEN can be to share ideas, concerns, hopes for Edmonds.” I am truly sorry if that offended you!

    Ignored

    1. I was not going to get involved in this discussion, but feel that I must respond to your post. Perhaps you should take your own advice Darrol and just “hit ignore”, as opposed to telling Linda Mae, in essence, that instead of her commenting that she should “ignore” Clinton. I interpreted her recent comment that her objection was not about you disagreeing with her comment but that you were suggesting that she “ignore”, and not comment. You and Clinton have both sorely missed the point, that a few of us got. We all know about the “ignore” feature; your comment was patronizing and did come off as trying to silence her. Clinton is so far gone in his assessment(s) that he is incapable of seeing the error(s) of his way. We will continue to read, comment, and support MEN, and rest assured, we are all aware of the “ignore” feature.

      Ignored

  12. I’m all for Linda Mae calling me out, which is definitely her right on this venue. It’s called free speech. I have no ill feelings toward her whatsoever. I simply disagree with her; I don’t think she knows the meaning of bullying and I don’t owe anyone an apology for what I didn’t do. There is a good reason why the ACLU defended the American Nazi Party having the right to promote White supremacy in their speech. Free speech is more important than any ideology. When we loose that right, we have indeed lost everything. I defend my right to bloviate. Just hit ignore.

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *