About 150 members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW called off a strike planned for Monday after Community Health Care agreed to new negotiations.
But David Flentge, the health care provider’s chief executive, said the onus is on the union to provide a new approach to reaching a labor agreement.
“I think the ball’s in their court,” he said.
The union invited those new negotiations in a letter it sent last week to the health care provider.
“They said they preferred to provide health care service to people to striking,” said Flentge.
The union said its focus remains on patient care and a fair deal.
“Our primary goal continues to be settling a fair contract with Community Health Care that protects our families and the patients we serve. We will be returning to the bargaining table next week to continue negotiations with Community Health Care,” the union said.
The union had struck the health care provider for two days in August, partially shutting down its network of clinics.
Flentge said Community Health was prepared to weather the strike by staffing its clinics with temporary workers.
“We had trained enough of them that we didn’t plan to shut down any of our facilities,” he said.
The health care organization and the union are at odds over the share of health insurance costs each will pay and the fate of step raises for employees.
Community Health imposed its last and final offer conditions last summer after negotiations broke down.
That offer raised employees’ share of health care insurance costs to 15 percent from 6 percent and eliminated step raises.
Community Health Care operates clinics in five locations: Hilltop, Parkland, Spanaway, Lakewood and the East Side.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663 firstname.lastname@example.org