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

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.

In a 2015 report from the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill received 53,739 tons of of plastic bags and wrap from housing and commercial sources alone. File photo/Sound Publishing
No good solution to the plastics problem

Plastic is piling up everywhere from King County to ocean floors, and humans keep making more.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

I’ll miss Doug Baldwin the player, but I’ll miss the man more

I witnessed ‘Contemplative Doug,’ not ‘Angry Doug,’ in my time covering the Seahawks.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Courtesy photo
Possible measles exposure reported in King County

The person who was infected took a Kenmore Air Flight on April 28.

Overdose deaths continue to rise locally and nationally

This may not be the same opioid epidemic anymore.

Cherry trees fully in bloom at the State Capitol Building in Olympia. Photo by Linda J. Smith
I-1000 passes state Legislature as advocates hope to increase equality

The initiative could allow affirmative action to return to Washington state after 20 years.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to develop luxury hotel at Auburn casino

Opening in 2021, dynamic resort experience to meet guest demand, the tribe says