Ketchikan Picket Crop

On Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, we flew to Ketchikan, Alaska to show support for our fellow Peace­Health nurses who were negoti­ating their new union contract. It was a great oppor­tu­nity to connect with nurses from another Peace­Health hospital that work and live under very different condi­tions than ourselves.

We were greeted by a couple nurses from Anchorage who were members of the Alaska Nurses Associ­a­tion (AaNA). They had come down to show support and solidarity to the nurses in Ketchikan as well. We met up with a group of people at the busiest inter­sec­tion in Ketchikan to hold an infor­ma­tional rally — mind you that there is only one main inter­sec­tion in Ketchikan. There were people from various organi­za­tions and unions, including the local nurses from Ketchikan, local teachers, as well as people from the local maritime union, all out on the street in the cold to show support for the nurses. 

The nurses in Ketchikan need our support to receive a fair contract. One of the biggest issues that they are facing is their rate of pay, which is currently the lowest of all the Peace­Health facil­i­ties, and is well below the current cost of living in Ketchikan. They also have diffi­culty with nurse reten­tion, leading to higher utiliza­tion of agency and travel nurses, which costs the organi­za­tion millions of dollars. 

Having this oppor­tu­nity to connect with the people in Ketchikan really was wonderful to see how a small town can come together to support each other. As nurses, we all face similar strug­gles and need to support each other no matter where we are at geograph­i­cally. In the past, we have received support from Peace­Health in Bellingham during negoti­a­tions, which helped to reach a contract agree­ment quickly. All the support that they have received in Ketchikan has appeared to have paid off as they were able to reach a tenta­tive contract agree­ment in late February.