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200 Everett hospice workers strike against Providence Home Health

Nurses and caregivers hit the picket line early Wednesday at the start of a planned three-day strike against Providence Home Health Care and Hospice of Snohomish County. (Photo: KOMO News)

EVERETT, Wash. - Nurses and caregivers hit the picket line early Wednesday at the start of a planned three-day strike against Providence Home Health Care and Hospice of Snohomish County.

The striking workers, who provide care and services in an inpatient hospice and at patients' homes, are seeking a new labor contract - and they say the issue is mostly about improving the quality of patient care.

They are calling on Providence to allow caregivers more time with each patient, to reduce the 24/7 on-call hours some caregivers face and improve wages to reduce turnover and stabilize caregiver-patient relationships.

"Hopefully we will be able to come together at some point and provide that change that is needed - but at this point, it is not there yet," said one striking worker.

Around 200 employees are taking part in the strike, including nurses, chaplains, social workers, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists

Providence says it has taken steps to make sure all patient needs are met during the strike.

In a prepared statement, the company said it is "disappointed" that workers have chosen to strike. It says the union is proposing a wage increase of more than 18 percent over three years, including an 8.75 percent increase in the first year alone.

"This simply is not good stewardship of our resources. Our proposal is to maintain our merit-based wage increase process, with a guaranteed minimum for all caregivers. This merit-based based process provided an average wage increase of 3 percent for caregivers this past year," the company's statement said.

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