Seattle Medical Centers Become Latest Battleground over Health Benefits

By Staff Report

Aug. 24, 2004

Faced with a strike by nurses and other employees, the Group Health Cooperative in Washington state will make do with $40-an-hour temporary nurses this week, according to the Seattle Times.

The 5-day strike, like many recent labor disputes around America, involves the shifting of health-care costs to employees. Union members at Group Health currently “pay no monthly health premiums and receive 100 percent insurance coverage after paying $5 co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs,” according to the Times.

Management would like to increase co-pays to $15 and start charging employees a percentage of their pay for coverage. According to the New York Times, the employees–who are members of the Service Employees International Union–are willing to pay more, just not as much as management is requesting.

A similar dispute is taking place at Caterpillar.

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