As a Whatcom taxpayer, I think there is something seriously amiss when the biggest employer in the county offers a health-benefits plan that the lower tiers of employees cannot afford. I expect this of Walmart, but not of a health provider enjoying a government-allowed monopoly in Northwest Washington. I am used to the sad fact that Walmart forces employees into public assistance programs, but something is really wrong when PeaceHealth does the same.
In the stalled contract talks, PeaceHealth offered a wage scale, but I believe it is very poor. For example, dietary workers would be paid $11.22 an hour and have no increase for four years. It would take 27 years to reach $15 an hour.
I think that rather than lock these employees out on May 14-15, as PeaceHealth did, more of PeaceHealth’s operating profit should go to improved compensation and benefits for the lowest-wage tiers of employees.
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PeaceHealth receives large public subsidies through tax preferences from localities and the state. The medical monopoly’s compensation policies force many of its employees into assistance programs, paid for by taxpayers.
Dale Zender is probably the highest compensated person in Whatcom County. Surely PeaceHealth could find it in its heart to accept what I believe is a very modest and reasonable contract proposal of the employees, rather than fight them every step of the way as if PeaceHealth were Walmart.