Streissguth resigns from Harrison’s board of directors

Kitsap County Commissioner Linda Streissguth resigned June 8 from the Harrison Medical Center Board of Directors. - Contributed photo
Kitsap County Commissioner Linda Streissguth resigned June 8 from the Harrison Medical Center Board of Directors.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Kitsap County Commissioner Linda Streissguth resigned from the Harrison Medical Center Board of Directors without much fanfare.

Streissguth tendered her resignation via a June 8 letter to Harrison CEO Scott Bosch.

“I resigned so that I could focus on my campaign [for County Commission],” Streissguth said.

Streissguth, a Democrat, was appointed to the county commission in January. She is now seeking a full four-year term on the board and will face Republican Ed Wolfe in November’s election.

Striessguth’s District 3 covers Central Kitsap and includes both of Harrison’s hospitals in Silverdale and Bremerton. Streissguth said her resignation was not prompted by growingly contentious labor negotiations between Harrison and its Professional and Technical Workers being represented by UFCW 21. In fact, Streissguth said she has stayed out of the fray following advice from the prosecutor’s office and declined an invitation to sit down with union hospital workers to avoid the risk of violating Washington state law..

“The reason I cited for not meeting with (the hospital workers), is I was instructed not to do so as an elected official of the county,” Streissguth said.

Streissguth noted that UFCW 21 was sent a letter several weeks ago that was signed by County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who chairs the board, outlining various reasons why the commissioners could not get involved in the negotiations.

“If Kitsap County Commissioners were to involve themselves in labor contract negotiations between Harrison Medical Center and its employees such action could violate State law,” the letter states.

But Kristen Beifus, a community organizer with UFCW 21, wrote Streissguth back expressing surprise and disappointment in Streissguth’s decision not to meet with workers.

“UFCW 21 members have had literally hundreds of meetings with local, state, and federal officials this year alone about issues ranging from contract negotiations, workplace safety, union organizing, labor standards, and other issues regarding community welfare,” Beifus wrote. “We believe, as do the myriad of politicians from across both the state and the political spectrum with whom we meet, that these constituent/elected official interactions fall well within any reasonable interpretation of Washington State law.”

Streissguth also said that Harrison’s recent announcement to likely locate acute care services at a single hospital in Silverdale in coming years did not play a role in her resignation from its board.

“I do support some of the work that Harrison and the board are doing to position the hospital long term,” she said.

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