Nurses at Sacred Heart Medical Center voted overwhelmingly on Friday to strike, but the order to walk has yet to come from union officials.
Both sides in the labor dispute are at the bargaining table today (Tuesday).
Washington State Nurses Association spokeswoman Ruth Schubert says she believes the strike vote authorization sends a message to management that nurses are serious about the negotiations. She says a walkout will likely mean the hospital would have to make some changes if replacement workers are brought in.
“I can tell you that typically they will bring in traveler nurses or replacement workers. They may delay replacement surgeries, but how they handle that is up to the hospital,” she said.
Among the major disagreements are changes to the nurses’ sick leave that they accrue over time.
Providence spokeswoman Susan Stacey says management feels the hospital is prepared if the nurses decide to walk.
“If this situation does result in a strike, and I want to reinforce our intent is to come to the negotiation table and come to a deal, if it does result in a strike, we are very well prepared. We have cared for our community for 130 years and we will continue to do so,” she said.
The union's cabinet will make the actual decision if a strike will take place, after consultation with the bargaining team at Sacred Heart.
If the negotiations break down and the union leaders decide to strike, they must give management ten days’ notice to prepare.