Saturday, November 07, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Capital Medical Center Workers to picket hospital today

Nov. 7, 2009 Olympian

OLYMPIA – Unionized workers at Capital Medical Center will stage an
informational picket today to call attention to their negotiations to
improve wages and benefits for about 150 employees at the hospital.

The office, housekeeping, maintenance, radiology lab and other workers are
represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 21, spokesman
Tom Geiger said.

Unlike a strike, in which workers walk off the job – as they did at
Providence St. Peter Hospital last month – the workers at Capital will
picket before or after a shift or during a break or lunch hour, he said.

The picket is set for noon to 2 p.m. outside Capital Medical Center, at
3900 Capital Mall Blvd. S.W. About 100 workers are expected to
participate, Geiger said.

At issue is improving wages and benefits as part of a new, three-year
contract for the workers. The most recent contract expired in September,
and more than seven bargaining sessions have been held since August, said
Chuck Ardingo, lead negotiator for the union.

Some wages for positions at Capital Medical Center are below industry
standards, and the health care plan is expensive for employees if it's for
a service that the hospital doesn't offer and they have to go elsewhere,
Ardingo said.

He acknowledged the slower economy and said the union is open to
incremental wage increases over the life of the contract, wages he hopes
can be based on Western Washington data rather than the data the hospital

"They want to retain control of the wage analysis," Ardingo said about the

Hospital officials said in a statement Friday that they're committed to

"Our negotiations with Local 21 continue next week, and we are confident
that we will ultimately reach agreement on a contract that serves the
interest of all parties," the statement reads.

Radiology technician Gina Arland, a member of the bargaining team, said
the workers pay at a higher rate with a much higher deductible if they go
elsewhere for health care needs.

"Our biggest complaint is that it penalizes us if we don't get it done at
Capital Medical Center," Arland said.

Ardingo added that privacy also is an issue. Some workers would rather see
a doctor they don't work with, he said.

Arland said she has worked at the hospital for six years and makes about
$26 an hour – "pretty much at market rate," she said. Other workers are
well below market rate, such as the endoscopy technicians who work with
gastrointestinal disorders, she said. Arland thinks their wages are $5 to
$7 an hour lower than where they should be.

"We want them to take their profits and reinvest it in the community, and
adequate market wages would be a great way to do this," she said about the
hospital and its parent company, Capella Healthcare of Tennessee.

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