Logan Health Nurses Deliver Strike Notice to Hospital Management

Three-day unfair labor practice strike called for June 1-3, involving nurses across the health system; hospital says it has commitments from "more than enough nurses" to provide care those days

By Myers Reece
Registered nurse Julie Anderson pickets in front of Logan Health, formerly Kalispell Regional Healthcare, in Kalispell on Feb. 23, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Logan Health nurses have delivered their 10-day notice to strike, setting the stage for nurses to hold a three-day unfair labor practice strike on June 1-3.

The nurses’ bargaining team has been negotiating with Logan Health management since the fall of 2019, but said in a statement today that “unless Logan Health bargains in good faith for an agreement that invests in care and jobs, they have no choice but to hold an unfair labor practice strike.”

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW said in a press release that the strike notice involves 650 nurses.

“A strike is the last thing we want to do, but Logan Health has been unwilling to listen to our voices,” said Donna Nelson, a registered nurse in Behavioral Health and a member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “We’re here for our patients, and that means taking action to hold Logan Health administration accountable to patient needs and to bargaining in good faith.” 

Logan Health officials released a statement in response.

“Sadly, SEIU provided notice of an intention to strike on June 1-3. It’s important to note that less than half of the RNs in the bargaining unit voted. Claiming that ‘650’ nurses voted to strike is intentionally misleading in an effort to suggest that all nurses would support a strike,” the statement read.

“If in fact SEIU does force a strike and encourages abandonment of patients, we are prepared to continue operations and we have commitments from more than enough nurses who are willing to step in and care for them. Abandonment of patients is against our core values and we want to assure the community that we are here to care for them.”

The 650 nurses included in the bargaining unit are spread across the Logan Health system, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, behavioral health, home care and hospice. North Valley Hospital nurses are not included.

Since bargaining began in the fall of 2019, nurses have proposed staffing increases on all units; a nurse staffing committee to give nurses a voice in staffing decisions across the health system; and wages and benefits that will “recruit and retain top-quality staff to care for the Flathead Valley community.”

“While administrators at Logan Health say they do not have the resources to invest in frontline staff, they have put time and money into acquiring new facilities and launching an expensive rebranding initiative,” SEUI stated.

“Our work caring for the Flathead Valley community is what makes Logan Health a great hospital,” said Sue Sweigart, a registered nurse at The Health Center and a member of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW bargaining team. “But if our wages stay behind every other major Montana hospital, many of us will have to find different work in order to support our families. That hurts our patients.” 

Nurses accused Logan Health management of engaging “in a campaign of union-busting activity” and refusing to “bargain in good faith.”

“Nurses say they have experienced retaliation for union organizing, endured intimidation tactics and illegal limits on permitted speech, and that management has stalled at the bargaining table by refusing to respond to the nurses’ proposals and information requests, among other tactics,” according to the SEUI 1199NW statement. “These practices are illegal under federal labor law, and the union has filed multiple unfair labor practice charges on the nurses’ behalf.”  

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