Providence Centralia Hospital is proud to serve our community, providing excellent and compassionate care since 1988. We are blessed with outstanding nurses and other caregivers whose dedication saves lives, improves health, and literally delivers many of our future community leaders.
Many of you are aware of a potential strike involving our nurses. We are currently in the early stages of contract negotiations with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) which represents our registered nurses. The proposals we have put on the bargaining table are strong and demonstrate our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our nurses and their families. As we work to reach an agreement that both sides can support, it is important to share the facts about Providence’s proposals.
Providence is increasing employee wages. We believe in providing competitive wages for our nurses. On average, a nurse at Providence Centralia Hospital earns $44.75 per hour, more than $81,185 per year after overtime and other incentives. These wages are very competitive, particularly in a county where the median household income is $46,387. Our current proposal includes additional pay increases for all nurses.
Providence is not taking away sick leave. We are proposing replacing the current extended illness time program with a new employer-paid short-term disability benefit. Our proposed short-term disability coverage, paid for by Providence, will provide a stronger financial safety net for employees who need to take unexpected leave due to an illness or injury. Under our current outdated system, most employees have little financial protection if they needed extended leave, and many go unpaid during periods of leave. Our proposal fixes this problem, providing 65% of our caregivers pay for up to 25 weeks. In addition, to help new moms and dads, we are introducing a paid parental leave benefit, providing 65 percent of pay for six weeks following a birth, adoption or placement of a foster child. Birth mothers will receive short-term disability pay as well, so they can receive benefits for up to 12 or 14 weeks depending on the type of delivery. Employees may also use their banked time off to supplement their leaves.
Providence is not reducing medical coverage and offers very competitive time away from work. We believe those who care for others deserve high-quality, affordable health care. That is why we provide low-cost medical benefits for our employees. On average, our nurses pay less than $60 per month for health care premiums, including coverage options for their whole family. The low premium continues under our current proposal. Furthermore, Providence’s proposal starts a brand new nurse with a generous 5 weeks of paid time off per year, increasing up to 7 weeks of time off for our more experienced nurses.
Our proposal is the right thing to do for our nurses and is rooted in our shared dedication to compassion, integrity and justice. We want our caregivers to feel supported so they can continue to care for patients without having to worry about paid time off or medical benefits.
The people of Centralia and greater Lewis County depend on outstanding, affordable care at Providence, provided by our exceptional nurses and other caregivers. As the largest employer in this community, we take seriously our responsibility to care for our nurses and we are proud of the proposal we have put on the table.
Centralia is a tight-knit community where people care for one another. I witness that care through the compassionate service of our employees, the $67.2 million dollars of community benefit provided by Providence ministries in Southwest Washington, and through the exceptional work I see every day at our hospital. Our community is the reason I am raising my family right here in Lewis County.
We are committed to continue bargaining in good faith toward a new contract with our nurses. I firmly believe that now is the time to come together around our shared goals and continue our work to reach an agreement with our nurses who have also dedicated their careers to serving our wonderful community.