Workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia, Wash., went on strike Monday morning to protest increased costs to employee health plans. The 530 striking workers include housekeepers, dietitian technicians and nearly all employees except nurses and doctors. A strike affecting workers at Providence SoundHomecare, also in Olympia, will start on Wednesday. Both strikes are scheduled to last until Saturday morning.
The strike was triggered by changes to the health plan that went into effect Jan. 1, said officials from Service Employees International Union Local No. 1199NW. The changes raise the cost of deductibles by an average of $3,100, union officials said. That’s “catastrophic” for affected workers who earn a median salary of about $31,000 a year, the union added…. One union member, Abbey Bruce, a certified nursing assistant at St. Peter for the past year and a half, said the policy forced her to take a second job as a homecare aide. Her husband, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, saw his prescription copay increase from zero to $300 a month under the new plan, Bruce said. Providence officials disagreed with the union’s assessment over how much deductibles would increase.