St. Joseph nurses rally as contract talks continue

Representatives with the Washington State Nurses Association have returned to talks with a federal mediator to try to resolve a contract dispute involving Tacoma-area nurses.

Nurses with CHI Franciscan St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma held a labor rally Friday morning (May 31) at the downtown Holiday Inn Express to support their representatives. An earlier rally in March also drew attention to the talks.

Contract negotiations have been ongoing for nine months. The nurses are calling for improvements to address staffing levels, workplace violence and recruitment/retention.

In a video posted Friday on social media, state Sen. Jeannie Darneille (27th District, Tacoma) was seen in attendance at Friday’s rally.

In a statement Friday, Cary Evans, vice president for communications and government affairs, CHI Franciscan said: “We value our registered nurses and are committed to providing a quality work environment with competitive wages and benefits that attract and retain the very best. We respect the collective bargaining process and, as we move forward with ongoing negotiations, patients at St. Joseph Medical Center can expect to receive uninterrupted, quality care.”

In March, St. Joseph nurses held an informational picket at the hospital to highlight negotiations and a safety complaint filed with the state. The case involved a series of attacks on nurses by a patient in the hospital’s psychiatric unit and resulted in fines for the hospital in April.