UW Health nurses take to social media to advocate for union representation

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Nurses at the University of Wisconsin Health in Madison have launched a social media campaign as part of their quest for a union and collective bargaining rights, The badger herald reported on November 17.

As part of their campaign, nurses have caught on facebook with the hashtag #whyuwnursesneedaunion to detail their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reasoning behind the push to organize. Workers – while noting that the opinions they publish are their own and not those of their employer – cite concerns about staffing, wages and working conditions.

“I want to take a moment to share what I’ve been through at UW Health. It’s never been a secret that I’m ‘pro-union’,” Trisha Wingert wrote on Oct. 27 alongside a photo from ‘she. “If you’ve been with me long enough, you’ll remember photos of me protesting downtown around the time of Act 10. After our final contract ended, I saw the effects of no longer have representation. The cost of insurance premiums has risen, salary increases have stagnated, staff ratios are being ignored, and our concerns about patient and nurse safety are falling on deaf ears. “

Nurses lost their SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin representation when their contract expired in 2014, when former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker enacted Bill 10 in 2011, according to UnionVoiceatUWHealth.org.

Since then, nurses have advocated for the University of Wisconsin hospital and clinic board of directors to voluntarily recognize the union so that they are re-represented.

Union says council can voluntarily recognize nurses as a union and start negotiating a contract to address concerns about staff safety, continuing education, affordable benefits, fair hours and quality patient care .

“Nurses call on employers, including the UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority, to recognize their union, and urge policy makers to ensure collective bargaining rights for all public sector employees. Nurses pledge to dramatically escalate their demand for a union voice, including public action, social media, advertising and elected officials outreach, ”SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin said in a press release in March.

In a statement shared with BeckerUW Health said the system has hired around 300 new nurses over the past two years and the system’s nurse turnover rate is around 10%, well below the national average.

Staff-to-patient ratios at UW Health are also among the best in the country, according to the system.

UW Health, however, acknowledged the staffing issues. As of October, UW Health had more than 3,400 nurses and approximately 300 nursing positions.

Regarding Law 10, UW Health is working with an employee relations consultant and legal expert to determine what is permitted by law, said Emily Kumlien, UW Health press secretary. The badger herald.

UW Health cited a memorandum written in May on Act 10 by Margit Kelley, senior lawyer with the Legislative Council of Wisconsin. Ms. Kelley writes that the University of Wisconsin’s Council of Hospitals and Clinics Authority “cannot formally or voluntarily recognize a union for the purposes of collective bargaining over wages, hours and terms of employment, but a union representing employees may seek to “meet and consult” with UWHCA to discuss these matters. “

UW Health also highlighted a board statement on the matter in February 2020, which in part indicates that the board agrees with management that there is room for improved two-way communication between employees. and management.

The full text of the declaration is available here.


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