Ascension nurses in Kansas to rally as 1st union contract talks begin

Nurses from Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, Kan., plan to rally Feb. 15 as they begin negotiations on their first contract.

Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph nurses in Wichita, who recently filed a petition for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board, are also slated to participate.

"This is going to be a historic day for Wichita, both for us as nurses and for the entire community," Shelly Rader, a registered nurse in the emergency department at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, said in a Feb. 13 union news release. "Nurses are patient advocates, both at the bedside and at the bargaining table. We're rallying to show management we're excited about a contract that empowers us to give our patients the best care possible, especially through addressing the staffing crisis at our facility. The people of Wichita deserve nothing less, and that's why we unionized."

Ascension Via Christi St. Francis nurses voted to join the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United, in November. The vote covers more than 650 nurses at the hospital, which is part of St. Louis-based Ascension.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Ascension said it will be bargaining in good faith during negotiations. 

"Negotiating a labor contract can be a lengthy process, and we are looking forward to beginning talks so that NNU-represented associates may have the same access to competitive pay and benefits we provide to our non-union associates," the statement reads. 

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