Washington Gov. Jay Inslee during a recent interview in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee during a recent interview in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Inslee gets involved in contract talks between Swedish, SEIU

The governor is orchestrating a four-day bargaining session with both sides led by an MIT professor.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and a professor from MIT’s Sloan School of Management are part of the latest effort to broker a deal between Swedish Medical Center and the union representing 7,800 of its employees.

Negotiators from Swedish and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW will meet separately Friday with industrial relations professor Thomas Kochan, federal mediator Beth Schindler and Inslee’s staff ahead of face-to-face sessions next week, the governor’s office announced Wednesday. The health care provider and union have exchanged proposals once since a three-day strike in late January.

“The union and Swedish are clearly committed to establishing a more collaborative relationship for the future,” Inslee said in the news release. “The demands of health care today require a real partnership for the workers, Swedish and most importantly, its patients.”

Swedish and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW have been negotiating a new contract since April. The union is calling for increased staffing and better wages.

The two sides haven’t met face-to-face since before the three-day strike from Jan. 28-31, where thousands of employees participated across every Swedish campus, including the Edmonds hospital.

In its latest deal, Swedish management offered to fill 200 full-time positions and boost wages by 11.25% over four years.

The union said the proposal didn’t go far enough to address the estimated 900 open staff positions and asked for raises of 22.75%.

Sit-down talks between the health care provider and union are set to start March 5 in SeaTac. The governor wants a deal within four days.

“There’s a real sense of optimism,” said David Postman, Inslee’s chief of staff. “Partly that’s based on the reception we got from both sides when the governor talked to them about this. There seems to be a real desire to get this done.”

Inslee’s office started following the negotiations closely during the marathon bargaining session that ended with union members delivering strike notices on Jan. 17.

Inslee is often briefed on labor negotiations, Postman said, but this was the first time he’s officially gotten involved.

“It is different when you have a hospital,” he said. “It’s important to the community just as it is to the workers and the company, itself.”

Kochan from MIT has a long history in labor relations and mediation, including work for health care companies and unions. Swedish and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW are paying his fees.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee during a recent interview in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee during a recent interview in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

More in Northwest

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo Tags
King County libraries move to Phase 4 this month

Libraries across King County will advance to Phase 4 on June 30,… Continue reading

Stock photo
Too Good To Go app aims to creatively reduce food waste

Nearly 40 percent of all food goes to waste worldwide, according to compnay spokesperson.

Courtesy image
As vax rates ease in WA, here come the prizes — including $1 million

Incentives range from big cash drawings to sports tickets and tuition. Drawings start next week.

Jackie Hoernor winces as she gets her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination during a Walgreen’s Vaccine Clinic at South Pointe on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Everett, Washington. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Washington no longer on pace to beat June 30 vaccine goal

Reaching 70% of adults with at least one shot would trigger the state to drop most COVID-19 restrictions.

t
King County Council approves facial recognition technology ban

Software ban applies to King County Sheriff’s Office

t
PSE’s electric customer rates increasing slightly

The new rates will go into effect July 1

Graphic rendering of ADU design used for Renton’s Permit Ready Accessory Dwelling Unit program (courtesy of City of Renton)
Backyard cottages might offer a partial solution to King County’s housing problem

Some cities are embracing the solution better than others.

Courtesy Photo, Public Health - Seattle & King County
King County health officials urge caution around rivers, lakes

Warm Memorial Day weekend weather expected to draw people to swimming, boating

Flames attack the hillside in Bonney Lake on Sept. 8, 2020. (East Pierce Fire & Rescue photo)
WA firefighters brace for potentially busy weekend

Washington state Department of Natural Resources firefighters were preparing for what could… Continue reading