More than 500 hospital workers strike in Olympia over health plans

Mar 11, 2013

More than 500 workers from Providence St. Peter Hospital are striking this week in Olympia. They’re protesting changes the company has made to their health plans.

The workers include nursing assistants, housekeepers and admitting staff. They say Providence raised their health plan deductibles in January, meaning they have to pay more out of pocket before their insurance kicks in.

Bob Wilson is a surgical technologist at the hospital. He says higher deductibles mean that workers are putting off going to the doctor and that it’s especially important for people who work in health care.

"We feel Providence is profitable, they don’t have to offer these plans to us," Wilson said. "As front-line caregivers, we deserve the respect for quality care so we can help our patients."

Providence spokespeople say they’ve raised deductibles but lowered monthly premiums in most cases. They say that helps people feel like they’re only paying for what they use. And the company says it’s offering financial incentives to people who get a wellness screening and certify that they have a primary care doctor.

The workers are represented by Service Employees International Union. Their strike is set to last five days. The hospital says it’s fully staffed and will continue seeing patients.