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Group Health nurses plan a strike

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Group Health nurses and medical staff announced Thursday they will go on strike in protest of what they said are unfair demands by Group Heath administrators to increase the costs of their health benefits.

The 2,200 workers in Group Health medical facilities said they are striking "to protect access to affordable health insurance for their families," according to an announcement released by their union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) district 1199.

SEIU officials said the strike is in response to higher co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions, new premiums, new deductibles and a new charge for an employee who wants to cover a spouse who could otherwise get coverage from another employer.

Federal law requires healthcare workers to give their employers 10 days notice before striking. SEIU officials said medical staff will strike from 7 a.m. Aug. 23 to 11:59 p.m. Aug. 27.

Group Health officials have responded that all emergency rooms, urgent care services and primary and specialty care centers will remain open, as will Group Health's consulting nurse services.

"Our contingency plans are in place," spokeswoman Heather Craig said.

Group Health's Federal Way Medical Center employs about 120 people, Craig said. Of those, about 60 are SEIU members.

The center, which Craig said serves about 17,744 patients a year, is located at 301 S. 320th St. It provides urgent care, women's healthcare, eyecare services and a pharmacy. Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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