Workers at a South King County psychiatric hospital are walking off the job Thursday, one day after another unit of the same SEIU Healthcare local staged a one-day strike at a Bellingham hospital.
Nurses and other workers at Cascade Behavioral Health in Tukwila say they’re protesting stalled contract talks and inadequate staffing. Carol Myers, a detox unit nurse, says when the private company Acadia took over the former non-profit hospital, it cut staffing levels in the geriatric psych unit.
“These people are fall risks and incontinent and you need additional staff in order to keep these people clean. And that’s really overwhelming for the amount of staff that they’re given,” she says.
Cascade CEO Michael Uradnik says the staffing ratio is safe and up to industry standards. He says he’s still hopeful the sides can reach an agreement.
“I’d have preferred if they hadn’t done it, absolutely. Does it make me further entrenched and more bitter? No. This is part of what you want to do, that’s fine. It’s a one-day action. After [Thursday] we’re going to get down to negotiating again,” he says.
The hospital plans to remain open during the one-day strike, with replacement workers trained to step in.