A steady stream of unionized Kalispell Regional Healthcare nurses, joined by supporters, took to the picket line on Feb. 23 to publicize complaints about hospital administrators who they say are putting “profits before patients.”
KRH executives, meanwhile, counter that nurses are misrepresenting negotiations and making unrealistic demands.
Each side accuses the other of slowing down the negotiation process, which has been ongoing since late 2019. The sticking points boil down to economics: staffing, wages, retention.
Taken altogether, it’s clear that collective-bargaining discussions have arrived at a bitter crossroads.
“You’re buying all these hospitals, you’re changing your name: Why can’t you put some money toward nurses who are on the ground taking care of the community?” Cindy Hinzman, a PACU nurse and member of the bargaining team, said in summing up the nurses’ perspective.
KRH nurses voted 372-199 to unionize in a July 2019 election, creating a bargaining unit of 650 nurses spread across the hospital system, including Kalispell Regional Medical Center, The HealthCenter, Brendan House and other clinics, although it excludes North Valley Hospital.