May 27, 2021
Nurse strike imminent as Logan Health management continues unfair labor practices, ignores key contract proposals
KALISPELL—Momentum continues to build for a three-day nurse strike at Logan Health, after nurses bargained all day Tuesday and into the night.
Management walked away from the table early Wednesday morning rather than respond to key proposals from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW nurses regarding staffing, recruitment and retention.
“After 19 months of negotiations Logan Health still has not committed to making changes that would help stop the drain of nurses from the Flathead Valley,” said Cindy Hinzman, a registered nurse in PACU. “We stayed at the bargaining table late into the night, waiting seven hours for management to offer a counter on our staffing, wages and benefits proposals. They came back, offered no changes on those important issues and said they won’t bargain with us again for another two weeks. We would have kept bargaining, but management chose to walk away.”
While ignoring some proposals, management chose to move backwards on others. Nurses say it’s essential to them that the staffing plan reflect the patient care needs on each shift and ensures that all nurses are supported in their work at the bedside. They need assurances that the charge nurse who coordinates nursing assignments and patient care will not also be assigned patients. This was one key proposal to increase the ability of nurses to consistently give great patient care. While Logan Health agreed months ago to have unencumbered charge nurses, last night management reversed course, rescinding their proposal to allow charge nurses to work unencumbered by patient care duties.
Meanwhile, Logan Health management continues their intensive efforts to weaken the nurses’ resolve to stand together as a union. The NLRB is currently investigating the retaliatory termination of a union nurse, and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW has filed more than ten other unfair labor practice charges against Logan Health for its illegal union-busting efforts. It is a violation of federal labor law for an employer to discriminate in hiring, assignments or discipline based on a worker’s union activities; to retaliate against or terminate workers for union activity; to surveil union activities or intimidate and chill workers’ freedom to engage in union activities; or to use company resources to campaign for decertification of a union, among other things.
“Everywhere I look in the hospital, I see a poster or flyer from management mischaracterizing what our union is about and telling me that I shouldn’t be part of the union,” said Karen Rupp, an RN in Logan Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “I can’t even go into a bathroom stall without seeing these misleading messages about our union. It’s not going to make me quit SEIU, but it does make me feel like Logan Health management is more interested in breaking our union than in bargaining with nurses in good faith.”
Nurses plan to strike for three days, June 1-3, if management does not respond to their request to return to the bargaining table to continue negotiations. Members of the community are invited to visit www.kalispellnurses.org to learn more about the nurses’ contract proposal, sign up to join them on the strike line and find other ways to support their fight for safe patient care.
About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 32,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and western Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.