Nurse Katy Roth and her husband, Rod, a union member with Labor Local 292, walk with other nurses on a picket line at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nurse Katy Roth and her husband, Rod, a union member with Labor Local 292, walk with other nurses on a picket line at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett nurses say staffing so bad, no time for the bathroom

Health-care provider contracts have expired, or will soon. They took to the picket line on Wednesday.

EVERETT — In yards and along roadsides, hundreds of yellow and blue signs have flooded Snohomish County, urging support of nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

After nearly eight months of contract negotiations, the hospital and 1,600 registered nurses still are not seeing eye to eye.

The nurses’ contract expired in October. Since then the nurses have been working under an extension of the previous agreement, according to the union. Representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 say the major sticking point is the need for more staffing.

“It’s been an issue for years,” said James Crowe, negotiations director for the union.

Nurses took further action Wednesday by holding lunchtime pickets at Providence’s Colby and Pacific campuses. At the Colby location, about 150 hospital workers and supporters held signs as they marched along 13th Street, chanting at times: “Hey Providence listen up, your workers are standing up.”

UFCW organizer Graciela Nune affixes cards addressed to various administrators on a board as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. The boards, with notes pleading for a contract settlement, are to be presented to the administrators tomorrow. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

UFCW organizer Graciela Nune affixes cards addressed to various administrators on a board as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. The boards, with notes pleading for a contract settlement, are to be presented to the administrators tomorrow. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“While informational picketing has no impact on patient care, we are disappointed that the union has chosen this option, and we would prefer to get back to the bargaining table,” hospital spokeswoman Lisa Daly wrote in an email. “Providence Regional Medical Center Everett continues to remain committed to negotiating in good faith.”

The nurses were joined Wednesday by professional and technical staff, who also are bargaining new contracts. The contract for technical staff expires in June, and the professional staff contract ended in March. Staffing levels are an issue for these workers as well, Crowe said.

Workers inside the hospital could be seen waving and cheering on the demonstrators. The picketers also wrote postcard messages to management.

Suzanne Woodard, a labor and delivery nurse who was picketing, said staffing levels are at a bare minimum, which means many nurses weren’t getting breaks or chances to use the restroom.

Nurses often work 12-hour shifts, she said, “I challenge anyone to be on your feet for 12 hours and not sit down.”

A supporter waves from a window as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A supporter waves from a window as nurses with UFCW 21 and their supporters picket outside Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Woodard, who is part of the negotiating team, said the nurses were concerned about patient safety.

“We work in the trenches,” she said. “We know what are appropriate staffing levels or not.”

The hospital declined to comment about staffing levels.

Since September, the union and hospital representatives have met more than a dozen times. And as of January, a federal mediator has been assisting the negotiations, Daly said. The two groups are scheduled to talk again Monday.

“While we are pleased we’ve made progress in some areas, we still have additional items to discuss … keeping in mind our shared goal of continuing to provide high-quality, compassionate care to our patients and community,” she said.

Nurse Amber Palermo, a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nurse Amber Palermo, a member UFCW 21, takes video of picketers and their supporters outside at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Wednesday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Woodard said she was hopeful the two groups can work out a deal.

“We hope to avoid a strike,” Woodard said, “but we are prepared to do so if that’s what it takes.”

Providence is the second largest employer in the county. In 2017, Providence had more than 31,000 inpatient admissions and handled nearly 90,000 emergency room visits, making it one of the busiest emergency rooms in the state.

_______

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.co. Twitter: @lizzgior.

More in Northwest

Walkers rest amid the trees at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island, which is part of King County. Many trees around Western Washington are struggling, including Western hemlock on Vashon, likely from drought stress. Photo by Susie Fitzhugh
King County forests are facing new challenges

Hot, dry summers are stressing native tree species in Western Washington.

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

Photo by Kayse Angel
What’s next for the I-405 master plan?

New express toll lanes from Renton to Bellevue are coming soon.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state

Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County approves bargaining agreement with 60 unions

Employees will receive wage increases and $500 bonus.

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

King County bail reform hinges on pretrial decision making

Data on inmates has shown that being held pretrial affects the likelihood of conviction.

Clues for fixing King County’s child care woes may be found in British Columbia

B.C. struggles with many of the same problems as Washington state.

A look inside the King County Juvenile Detention Center. File photo
King County is still using solitary confinement on juveniles

Report on solitary confinement shows the county is not honoring its agreement.