More than 100 nurses and supporters gathered on a lagoon-side lawn this week at the Captain Whidbey Inn to advocate for competitive wages and staffing concerns.
The Aug. 13 event was part of routine three-year contract negotiations that have been going on for several months with Whidbey General Hospital.
Spearheaded by the Washington State Nurses Association, the group is advocating specifically for:
- Ensuring “safe staffing for patients and nurses alike”
- “Giving nurses the support they need to deliver excellent patient care — without penalizing them for factors beyond their control”
- Preserving the “rest breaks nurses need for their physically and mentally demanding work”
- Paying “competitive wages for the difficult work they do”
- And respecting and valuing “registered nurses for their critical role as the caregiver at the bedside, the eyes and ears of the medical team, and the primary connection between patients and their loved ones”
“It’s time for administrators at Whidbey General Hospital to bargain in good faith and settle the RN contract now,” according to a WSNA news release.
Having months-long negotiations with unions is not unusual, according to Whidbey General Hospital. According to Whidbey General Hospital spokesperson Trish Rose:
“There have been three mediation sessions thus far, with a fourth scheduled for Aug. 17. Just like other area hospital negotiations in the last year, there are many difficult issues on the bargaining table for both parties. Nurse negotiations at Providence Everett Medical Center recently took about nine months, and at Skagit Regional Medical Center it was about 11 months. Here at Whidbey, we have been in the bargaining process for about five months. However, clear progress has been made on many fronts.The hospital looks forward to our next mediation session in hopes that we can reach a settlement soon.”