Susan Walker, a nurse in the day surgery department, joined dozens of others picketing outside the Ballard hospital. She said this was her first strike in 41 years as a nurse, but chronic short-staffing means she has to work on her day off every two or three weeks.
“We have to come in on our days off constantly to take care of patients,” Walker said. “It’s very disruptive to your life, but you feel sorry for your coworkers so you bite the bullet and come in.”
The labor action called by SEIU Local 1199NW, which represents 7,800 workers at Swedish, is one of the largest hospital strikes in the U.S. in recent years, and it comes amid both a national shortage of nurses and a trend of hospital consolidation.
Gene Johnson, Associated Press abcnews
Nurses strike in Seattle this week for safe staffing. from r/nursing
I have worked on Third Avenue since 1996. During this time, I watched Third Avenue become an open-air market of drugs and stolen goods, and other criminal activities. I have witnessed shoplifting at nearly every store; stores close due to shoplifting; people defecate in the streets; people injecting heroin; and untreated addiction and mental illness cause heartbreaking misery. My suburban friends have stopped coming downtown.
Criminals and thugs have laid claim to downtown, and Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best have done little or nothing to thwart criminal activity that I, or any other brave Seattle citizen, can witness — night or day — by walking Third Avenue between Pike and Pine.
Letters to the Editor, Seattle Times
Downtown Seattle businesses and employees scared, frustrated after latest shooting
Yet some employees and managers said these new measures would do little to address the deeper problems that have made the several-block area between Pike Street and Denny Way — an area nicknamed “The Blade” — into a magnet for criminals and drug dealers as well as people struggling with homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues. Many described a sense of powerlessness in the face of a constant presence of petty criminals who often seem to operate with impunity.
“Rent is obscene here”: The issues forcing people in Seattle onto the street
Anderson Cooper visits a tent city in the Seattle area and hears from some of America’s more than 500,000 homeless people
Tricia Wood: I used to be one of those people that thought that if anyone was homeless they just needed to go get a job. That would solve their homeless problems.
Anderson Cooper: How would you answer that question now? Why can’t they just get a job?
Tricia Wood: Oh my goodness. Maybe they have a job.
Josiah Wood has a full-time job. He gets up before dawn and takes mass transit to work as a maintenance supervisor at the Hard Rock Café downtown. Though he makes $19.50 an hour, the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle would eat up half his salary. He and Tricia say they’ve been saving up money so they can afford a security deposit and monthly rent.
Anderson Cooper: How long do you think you’ll keep living in the tent city?
Tricia Wood: I would hope we are out of here by winter.
The toxic politics are bad enough, but the city also has become unaffordable for the middle class. Partly, that is due to high demand (which is a good problem for a city to have), but it’s also due to self-inflicted wounds, such as a restrictive housing policy that artificially caps supply. Seattle is well on its way to becoming the next Vancouver, British Columbia, with the median housing price having spiked to an eye-watering $820,000, far outside the reach of the middle class. Unless they are able to save for about 14 years to afford a down payment, millennials can forget about homeownership entirely.
The writer has lived in Seattle for 14 years and is moving on.