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Nurses picket for better working conditions at Seattle Children's hospital

Seattle Children’s nurses rallied outside hospitals Tuesday morning to call attention to pay, working conditions and staffing shortages.

SEATTLE — Hundreds of nurses and supporters gathered outside Seattle Children’s hospital on Tuesday morning for an informational picket.

The group is demanding the hospital make changes to working conditions and increased pay to help retain the nurses they already have.

The Washington State Nurses Association said the hospital needs 400 additional registered nurses to properly care for patients.

With inflation rates at 8.5%, nurses at Seattle Children’s said they received 3% in annual wage increases while working long hours and making far less than temporary nurses on short contracts and travel nurses. They have held nine bargaining sessions over four months with hospital leadership to no avail.

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Hospital staff on the picket line Tuesday morning told KING 5 that this is about calling attention to even larger issues swept under the rug at Seattle Children’s.

“This picket isn't just about increasing our pay so we can live here in Seattle, it’s more about the dirty little secrets of the organization,” Karen Hanken said outside the hospital Tuesday morning. “Us nurses have had to stand by when aspergillus raged through our [operating rooms]. We had to stand by when Dr. Ben Danielson left because of the racism in the organization, and now, instead of the hospital wanting to give the nurses fair pay, they are building new buildings.”

In a letter to the Laurelhurst neighborhood, which is the Seattle neighborhood where the hospital is located, Seattle Children’s said it supports the nurses' right to picket. None of the nurses participating are on-duty, so patient care would not be impacted, the letter said. 

Nurses were expected to picket outside the hospital from 6-9 a.m. and from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday near the hospital campus in Laurelhurst.

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