The morning rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of hundreds of Swedish heath care workers as they turned out in front of Swedish Edmonds Hospital at 7 a.m. Tuesday to begin what the union says will be three days of picketing at major Swedish facilities throughout the area.
According to the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the three-day strike means workers plan to report for work as normal on Friday. However, Swedish management has hired thousands of replacement workers, to whom it has committed to provide five days of work, so the returning union workers will likely not be back on the job until Sunday at the earliest.
The strike includes approximately 8,000 workers systemwide, with 1,300 of those in Edmonds.
While Swedish has its own security personnel inside the hospital, Edmonds police are providing the presence of seven officers on surrounding streets to maintain traffic flow, said Edmonds police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure. The goal of the police presence is to keep people safe and not to take sides in the strike, he added.
Inside the hospital, visitors saw the following informational sign: “Please do not be alarmed. We assure you that union’s activities will not affect the high-quality and safe care you have come to expect from Swedish. We respect the rights of our employees to participate in this action and we are committed to continuing to engage in good faith bargaining to a new agreement.”
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Swedish reported that operations “are running smoothly at all of our campuses.”
Noting that “a significant number of represented caregivers made the personal choice to report to work and serve our patients,” Swedish added it was “grateful to our physicians, nurse managers and other medical staff for their leadership in ensuring a safe transition of patient care.”