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WSNA members from Sacred Heart and Kadlec joined hundreds of outraged nurses, health care workers, state labor leaders, public officials and union activists from across Washington on July 26 to hold a “Rally for Patients Before Profits” at the corporate headquarters of Providence St. Joseph Health, the state’s largest health system.

We brought our message directly to multi-millionaire executives because managers in our local Providence facilities have refused to address urgent problems including workplace and patient safety concerns, cuts to sick time and paid time off, competitive benefits and wages to recruit and retain nurses.

The rally brought together more than 20,000 workers from throughout the Providence system in almost every job title. The shared problems we are all experiencing have become so extreme that they prompted the workers’ four different unions – OPEIU Local 8, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, UFCW 21 and the Washington State Nurses Association – to create the “Providence United Coalition” to support each other and jointly hold executives accountable for solutions.

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The response from Providence? A statement to the media that “the most effective venue for discussing labor contracts is at the local bargaining tables” and “We have full confidence that our local leaders, who are bargaining these contracts, have presented strong pay and benefits packages that are aligned with our values and advance our commitment to creating an exceptional work experience for our caregivers.”

Really? If that were true, WSNA members wouldn’t have been compelled to travel across the state to try and get our message across. We wouldn’t have rallied and picketed.

At the Washington State Labor Council Convention on July 27, delegates passed a resolution calling on leaders of local unions to send letters to the Providence board of directors calling on them to listen to health care workers and immediately negotiate fair union contracts; and the Washington State Labor Council to stand in solidarity with healthcare workers in their fight to make Providence return to the founding core values of Compassion, Dignity, Justice, Excellence and Integrity, and put patients before profits.