Virginia Mason Memorial workers are fighting against healthcare changes made last year
YAKIMA Wash. -- Service workers at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital are fighting to receive fair treatment on their health care insurance plan.
Workers rallied in front of Virginia Mason Memorial hospital today to get their voices heard against healthcare changes that the hospital made last year.
Patricia Lasat has worked in the hospital's kitchen for 35 years and she says previously Memorial covered the full cost of employees' insurance.
Now, she says they have to pay more than $1,000 a year for healthcare plus the cost of several medications have also gone form $10 to $100.
“It’s disgusting. We work in healthcare and people are being sent to collections. You go to the hospital you get your bill today; tomorrow you get a bill saying you’re in collections. You haven’t even had time to pay your bill," said Lasat.
Shipping and Receiving clerk for Virginia Mason Memorial hospital David Briggs says he went to get a cataract surgery thinking his insurance would cover him but that wasn’t the case.
“I was thinking that my doctor was in tear one and all of a sudden he had been dropped out of tear one and was in tear three so I got a three thousand dollar bill," said Briggs.
Briggs says they have tried to bargain with the hospital to come to a fair agreement but it hasn’t worked.
“Well we have been introduced to bargaining. We tried to get the hospital to tie it to your wages that your premium be a percentage of the wages and they’re saying 'no'," said Briggs.
Even Yakima City councilwoman Holly Cousens joined the rally because she says she comes from a family of union workers and believes everyone should be treated fairly.
“You know it’s disheartening. You know these are the people that keep us safe. The people that keep us healthy and when they’re not getting treated the same as we are it's not acceptable in my book," said Cousens.
CEO of Virginia Mason Memorial hospital Russ Myers did not want to do an on camera interview but instead sent an official statement saying "they continue to bargain in good faith and to work toward a mutually beneficial future for all parties."
He also said they do not negotiate in the media and continue to work with the Service Employees International Union to establish an ongoing negotiation schedule.
The workers are hoping to meet again with the hospital and come to an agreement. Their next negotiation date is set for September 21.