Michigan Medicine workers move to unionize

Respiratory therapists and technologists at Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine's University Hospital and C.S. Mott Children's and Women's Hospital seek to organize with Service Employees International Union Michigan and have requested that the University of Michigan recognize the union.  

Recognition would allow about 300 respiratory therapists and technologists to have a larger effect on patient care and workplace conditions, the union said in a Feb. 23 news release. According to SEIU Healthcare Michigan, about 80 percent of University of Michigan front-line workers are currently unionized. 

"Across the university, a majority of front-line workers enjoy union protections through contracts that protect their rights. SEIU Healthcare Michigan provides us an opportunity to elevate our voices on the job to better advocate for ourselves, our patients and our community. A super majority of workers in our unit have signed union cards and it's time for the University of Michigan to recognize our union," Sabra Wells, a registered respiratory therapist at University Hospital of University of Michigan Health, said in the union release. 

The university may recognize new labor unions "upon a showing of majority support of the employees in the bargaining unit." This framework for union recognition was approved in 2020. Previously, the university required a state-supervised election to recognize new labor unions. SEIU Healthcare Michigan also has the option of filing for a union election if the university does not recognize the union.

Michigan Medicine confirmed to Becker's that SEIU has approached the university about organizing and initial discussions are taking place.

"Our respiratory technicians provide a crucial role in our healthcare delivery. We are currently discussing their organizing effort with our employees and the SEIU and plan to work collaboratively with them," David Miller, MD, president of University of Michigan Health, said in a statement. "We welcome the conversations that we hope will contribute to our culture of constant improvement in the delivery of care to our patients."

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