Hospital

Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center has agreed to another extension of the contract with a labor union that represents many of the Kodiak hospital’s employees.

The agreement between PKIMC and the Alaska Medical Employees Association was reached on Friday, just two days before the existing contract was set to expire. Without a contract in place, AMEA would have been able to authorize informational picketing or a strike.

The extension keeps the current collective bargaining agreement between PKIMC and AMEA in place through Oct. 31.

Alaska Medical Employees Association, a labor organization that represents around 200 PKIMC employees, including nurses, technicians and pharmacists, has an affiliate agreement with labor organization Alaska Teamsters Local 959 for contract negotiations.

According to Jace Digel, a business representative with Alaska Teamsters Local 959, contract negotiations between AMEA and PKIMC have been scheduled for Oct. 29 and 30, just one day before the extension ends. 

The long-term contract between AMEA and PKIMC expired Feb. 16. Since then, there have been numerous short-term extensions, lasting between one and two months. The short-term extensions are a result of the failure to reach a long-term agreement between PKIMC and AMEA.

The contract extension comes amid an ongoing disagreement between PKIMC and AMEA regarding the contract bargaining process.

On Aug. 23, Teamsters filed an unfair labor practice charge against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that PKIMC has been engaging in bad-faith bargaining by refusing to change proposals on vacation and sick leave.

The contract extension does not change the status of the NLRB’s investigation of PKIMC’s negotiation practices, according to Digel. The NLRB review process will take four to eight weeks, and include collection of affidavits and evidence from both the union and the employer. 

Providence Health and Services merged with St. Joseph Health in 2016. Providence St. Joseph Health, headquartered in Seattle, numbers more than 100,000 employees across multiple states. According to Digel, the healthcare provider has been trying to promote an aligned benefits program for its employees.

The Olympian (Olympia, Washington) reported Thursday that nurses at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia overwhelmingly voted down a contract proposal that would have changed the way they get paid time off. 

The proposed contract would have shortened the time off nurses receive for sick leave and vacation time, with caps on accrued time off, the article states.

Digel called the Olympia negotiations “one example of many who are finding challenges with Providence’s ‘take it or leave it’ proposal.”

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