Union, Logan Health reach tentative contract agreement
Logan Health Medical Center in Kalispell on Wednesday, June 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Daily Inter Lake | August 1, 2023 12:00 AM
Members of the Service Employees International Union 1199NW at Logan Health are voting on a tentative contract agreement this week after months of negotiations with the health care system’s administration.
Logan Health Kalispell nurse Kim Paulsen is part of the union’s bargaining team at Logan Health. She said negotiators struck an agreement on July 28 and members will hold a ratification vote this week.
While she isn’t able to give specific details about the contract before it is voted on by union members, Paulsen said it includes pay raises for workers and protects the agreement in the event of a merger with another hospital system.
Logan Health is in the process of integrating with Billings Clinic, a move that Logan Health CEO Craig Lambrecht said will increase access and improve patient care across the hospital systems’ service areas.
In a previous interview with the Daily Inter Lake, Lambrecht spoke to concerns raised by union members about the move, saying that the integration with Billings Clinic could help address industry-wide issues like financial and workforce challenges. He said the integration could be finalized by the end of summer or early fall.
Noting that the goal was to benefit as many union members as possible, Paulsen said she believed the bargaining team achieved that objective.
“The union is a we thing, not a me thing, we hope to transfer what we won into improved safety and quality of care to the patients and our community,” she said.
Paulsen said when a union is new, it’s a learning curve for everyone involved. She believes union members are “entering a phase of cooperation” with the health care system’s administration.
“Both parties are starting to see the benefits of working together, we can cooperatively make progress and really start fixing issues within Kalispell Logan Health. One main example is recruitment and retention of staff, which should improve staffing,” Paulsen said.
She said they are focused on retaining nurses with roots in the Flathead Valley, workers she said they have seen depart because of financial strains.
Paulsen previously said she and other union members have pushed for increased wages for hospital staff since bargaining began last fall. She also noted that many of her colleagues have opted to move to places like Spokane for a cheaper cost of living and higher pay.
Nurses with Logan Health, at the time known as Kalispell Regional Medical Center, voted in July 2019 to unionize with the Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199NW. Union members reached an agreement for their previous contract in Sept. 2021 after two years of contentious negotiations and a three-day strike that summer.
Reporter Taylor Inman can be reached at 406-758-4433 or by emailing email@example.com.