Utah gets its 1st union tied to a health system

Healthcare workers within Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health have formed a union.

Utah Health Workers United, a unit of Communications Workers of America Local 7765, will be the first union in the state directly tied to a specific health system, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

The union says on its website that its purpose is to unite healthcare workers to address issues such as pay and working conditions.

"Individual workers have little power in large healthcare systems," the website states. "This negatively impacts our health, finances and well-being. It also detracts from the outcomes we want for our patients!

"Ultimately, we believe that advocating for healthcare workers is advocating for patients. We invite you to join us to transform healthcare practice in our beautiful state."

University of Utah Health is staffed by 23,000 employees who work across its hospitals, clinics and community centers, as well as in health academics. The union is open to employees in any position — including nurse, technician, scheduler, pharmacist, custodian and EMT — as long as they don't have hiring or firing power.

More than 500 employees at the organization have indicated intent to join the union, Taylor Almond, a union member and a psychiatric technician at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

As of Nov. 14, University of Utah Health had not received notification about the formation of a union.

However, its "primary goal is always the well-being of our patients and teams. We are happy to talk with team members who have concerns about their work environment," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's.

University of Utah Health added that it "works hard to be a preferred employer," and "every employee received an annual pay increase and we regularly review local and national compensation data to ensure we're competitive with our peers. We focus on the retention of our talented care teams and routinely meet with them to better understand their needs."

"U of U Health is prohibited from recognizing organizations for purposes of collective bargaining. That said, we are committed to transparency, to listening, and to collaboration. We welcome the opportunity to work together with our teams to continually improve working environments and to discuss any concerns."

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