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Striking Swedish Medical Center nurses and caregivers will march from First Hill

(Image: @SEIU1199NW)

A Wednesday afternoon march will mark the midway of a planned three-day strike as nearly 8,000 Swedish Medical Center nurses and caregivers are fighting for a new, better contract with the nonprofit Seattle-area health provider.

The strike is hitting Seattle campuses including First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah where Swedish says it planned to use thousands of temporary workers to continue its services.

Emergency rooms in Ballard and Redmond have been closed during the strike which is slated to end Friday morning. Organizers claim Swedish management has threatened to lock striking workers out through the weekend.

Service Employees International Union organizers say they are pushing for more robust staffing levels and better pay. Swedish officials say they’re offering an 11% pay raise. Talks have been underway for nearly a year.

Swedish, the largest nonprofit health provider in Seattle, established an affiliation with the much larger Catholic health services organization Providence Health in 2012 in a plan to share resources in a multi-billion dollar combination.

“Ever since corporate giant Providence took over Swedish, healthcare workers have seen management prioritize profits and executive pay over patients’ needs, causing severe care problems, understaffing and turnover,” a statement on this week’s strike from SEIU reads. “Providence has grown into Washington’s largest healthcare corporation, and now controls over 1,000 facilities in seven states.”

Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 PM, a march will leave from Swedish First Hill at 747 Broadway and head downtown for a rally at Westlake.

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