Stoppage looms for Washington urgent care clinics ahead of MultiCare worker strike

Urgent care clinics in Washington could come to a sudden halt, as MultiCare workers have authorized a strike that could start as soon as early October.

According to the Union of American Physicians & Dentists (UAPD), workers approved a strike authorization on Monday by a 96% margin, which they say clears the way for a strike "in as soon as 10 days."

Organizers cite staff burnout from too many patients, shifts longer than 12 hours, no scheduled meal breaks, and wages out-of-pace with the rising cost of living—all while Tacoma-based MultiCare has revenues of close to $4 billion, organizers say, with among the highest-paid executives of any nonprofit healthcare organizations in the state.

"MultiCare treats our providers like beasts of burden who pull the expensive wagon that administrators ride upon. That's just wrong!" said Dr. Stuart Bussey, UAPD president.

UAPD says in the last year alone, the provider turnover rate has hit 26%. They predict a week-long strike at 24 clinics would "flood crowded emergency rooms" across Washington, and lose the company at least $2 million.

ALSO READ: Kaiser Permanente union worker strike won't affect Washington, officials say

It is not yet known when the strike would begin or how long it will last if contract negotiations are not finalized.