Professional and Technical workers at Harrison Medical Center voted last week to reject a contract proposal from the hospital.
By an 81 percent vote, the ProTech workers, who are members of UFCW 21, rejected the contract offer.
“Management has repeatedly said to let the people vote. The members have voted and rejected the proposal by 81 percent. Harrison needs to come back to the bargaining table and get serious about settling a fair contract,” Amy Evans, Rob Shauger and Christina Britton said after the vote.
The three Harrison Medical Center workers are part of the union member bargaining team.
The main reasons the union claimed it rejected the contract offer include a threat to all workers' health care coverage due to no longer providing funding for the plan past June 2015. Other issues included changes in grievance procedures.
Additionally, the union believes the offer would weaken future negotiations "by dividing the workforce from each other with a shortened contract and by proposing that Harrison could fire any worker when they exercise their right to stand together with other workers in case of a dispute," according to a press release issued after the vote. The union stated its belief that the "complicated bonus structure" would not work because of its failure to "compensate workers for all hours worked since the contract expired in Sept. 2013."
Jacquie Goodwill, the director of marketing and communication for Harrison Medical Center, described the vote as unfortunate.
"We absolutely want to come to an agreement with them," she said. "In many cases, these are longtime employees who we value tremendously. We just don't understand why they would not want to ratify this contract. We just don't. We hope they can enlighten us as to what elements of the contract itself are so contentious that they don't want to agree to it."
Goodwill said the only thing that seems to be at issue, from the hospital's perspective, is a labor peace agreement.
"We would that they would share the same vision," she said. "The labor peace agreement is in place in every other hospital system throughout Puget Sound. It's a standard. So, we don't understand why this is such a contentious issue. We are caring for their friends and neighbors. If they struck all at one time, it would close hospital operations. We absolutely value every single one of those employees. We all work alongside one another. We care about them and the work that they do. We value it and it's evident in the raises we're offering and the retention of their health benefits. We just need them to help us understand, beyond labor peace, what it is that they are looking for."