New contract approved for Highline Medical Center’s nurses, caregivers

Nurses and caregivers at CHI Franciscan’s Highline Medical Center in Burien have voted to approve a new contract they contend will improve patient care and jobs at the hospital.

A supermajority of the 550 health-care workers, represented by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, ratified the contract by 99 percent Friday.

The new agreement is in effect through the end of June 2022.

According to an SEIU news release late last week: “Among many improvements, the agreement includes safer staffing levels so patients receive compassionate care; affordable health benefits; none of the takeaways management originally proposed; racial justice provisions to ensure everyone is treated fairly on the job; and significant raises that will recruit and retain qualified caregivers.”

The raises as described by the union include “a 4 percent raise upon ratification of the contract, which includes a 3 percent raise retroactive to July 2019; up to 6.25 percent additional raises through July 1, 2021; new steps in the pay scale for service workers; raising the minimum wage at the hospital from $15.05 to $16.34; environmental services staff can become certified through the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Training Fund and earn $1 an hour additional pay.”

The agreement also brings lower premiums for dental care for the workers and protections from medical debt collections.

The contract also takes steps to to ensure fair treatment among workers, according to the union, with “data sharing regarding workforce demographics and disciplinary actions, to address instances of bias; and joint training for the labor-management committee.”

The action follows a separate contract victory in January for nurses at CHI Franciscan’s St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw, who voted to approve their agreement with the health system in January.