Doctors reject contract proposal from Providence Medical Group

SEATTLE - The Northwest Physicians Alliance, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, representing doctors at Providence Medical Group (PMG) clinics in the Puget Sound area, unanimously rejected a contract proposal Nov. 5 because it didn't provide them with the voice they need to advocate for patients.

Citing concerns about ensuring good patient care, approximately 80 doctors organized into a union nearly two years ago and have been negotiating since then with a succession of managements at the clinics.

"Two years ago, we found that our concerns were not listened to nor taken seriously so we decided we needed a formal voice with management, a union," said Dr. Hope Rice, a family physician at the West Seattle Clinic for 13 years. "We were frustrated by our inability to be effective advocates for our patients and we believe a strong union contract will give us a strong voice at PMG."

The physicians were the first to organize in the Pacific Northwest and among the first clinic physicians in the nation to unionize.

Dr. Mary Jo Kitner, a physician at the Magnolia PMG clinic, said: "We need a contract to ensure that physicians have a voice in how they care for their patients. We need a strong contract as a counter-weight to the pressures of corporate medicine."

On Nov. 11 doctors - wearing white coats with stethoscopes around their necks - leafleted patients on the street in front of Providence Medical Center.

The physicians here are leading a national trend in insisting that doctors, and not corporate medicine, speak for their patients.

The union represents approximately 80 primary care physicians at clinics in the Puget Sound area.

November 19, 1999 issue

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