University of Wisconsin board declines to recognize nurses' union

The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board for a third time decided against voluntary recognition of union representation for nurses at Madison-based University of Wisconsin Health hospitals, the Wausau Pilot & Review reported.

Although the board decided against recognition, it said it wants to continue working collaboratively with employees.

UW Health nurses have been seeking voluntarily union recognition from the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board, with help from SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin.

Union leaders said nurses lost their representation when their contract expired in 2014 due to former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10, which was signed into law in 2011 and barred collective bargaining.

Since then, the nurses say patient safety and advocacy concerns have arisen, prompting them to push for union recognition.

Union advocates said voluntarily recognition is allowed, but the board has declined to do so, according to the Pilot & Review.

During an open session at a Feb. 27 board meeting, the board heard comments from union advocates but decided for a third time not to voluntarily recognize the union.

Nurses were displeased with the decision, according to The Badger Herald

Mariah Clark, an emergency department nurse at University Hospital, told the newspaper: "What made us primarily start talking about [unionizing] was noticing the trend of the institution more toward expansion and profits over people. When we felt like we were being asked to do more with less, consistently, and we wanted to be able to continue to provide the exceptional care UW was known for, that's when people started talking."

UW Health said the board believes it's best for the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority, patients and employees, for authority management "to continue to work directly with employees to understand their concerns and to work together toward solutions."

UW Health has also pointed to existing employee engagement avenues.

Since 2014, the health system "has successfully implemented many processes to obtain direct employee feedback, such as forums, the Employee Advisory Council and employee surveys," the health system told Becker's Hospital Review in an emailed statement. "These avenues have provided valuable feedback that has helped shape the decisions and direction of the organization."

UW Health added that it will continue to support employee and nurse engagement.

 

More articles on human resources:
Hospitals and unions: 6 recent conflicts, agreements
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More articles on human resources:
Hospitals and unions: 6 recent conflicts, agreements
San Joaquin General Hospital RNs strike
Washington governor gets Swedish, union back to bargaining table next week

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