On January 28th, following 10 months of failed negotiations, nearly 8,000 employees of Swedish Health Services, all members of SEIU 1199 Northwest—a union representing more than 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers throughout Washington State and Montana—walked out on a three-day strike. Right there on the picket lines with them was SLU alumna Mia Ragozino.
Ragozino, who earned her Masters in Labor Studies in 2019, recently joined SEIU 1199NW as an organizer. “SEIU 1199 was a good fit for me,” said Mia. “It’s an organizing union with a racial justice lens and a concernfor workers’ safety.” She said the strike was a last resort in the union’s fight for not just fair compensation, but for adequate staffing and patient safety. “Since corporate giant Providence took over the Swedish healthcare system, management has prioritized profits and executive pay over patients’ needs and workers’ rights.” She noted that three presidential candidates had tweeted in support of the walk-out, including Senators Sanders, Warren, and Pete Buttigieg.
Mia says her learning experiences at SLU prepared her well for her current role. “SLU prioritizes the education of people and workers of color. And learning about the history of the labor movement was a huge eye-opener for me.” After SLU, Mia attended Cornell ILR’s summer institute for strategic corporate research. While there, she learned about the job with SEIU 1199NW.
Mia credits Professor Stephanie Luce with not only inspiring her, but for recommending her for the position in Seattle. “She was a role model for me,” said Mia, “and she helped me get started in the career I always wanted to pursue. It all came together at SLU.”
Professor Luce returned the compliment: “It was a joy to have Mia as a student,” she said. “Her energy and passion for social justice inspired other students as well as me. Given her sharp mind and research skills, SEIU 1199NW is lucky to have her!”
Read more about the SEIU 1199 healthcare workers’ strike here.