Madison, Wis. (WMTV) – The day you first thought about starting Three day strikeSupporters of UW Health’s efforts to organize nurses into a union are planning to celebrate instead Last minute deal plan What prevented him from walking.
“This is a huge step forward for nurses and our patients,” explained UW Health Nurse Practitioner Colleen Gillis. “This agreement is a testament to the strength and commitment nurses bring to everything we do. Now we have the opportunity to meet at the table, roll up our sleeves and get to work.
The announcement of the planned holiday celebration, which included Gillis’s comments, offered a first look at the union organizers who won a victory following Monday’s deal. While not all the details have been revealed, SEIU, which is trying to organize nurses, has highlighted six points the union calls a “union-based agreement.”
In a joint statement Monday, both sides focused on just one point of the deal: the Wisconsin Labor Relations Commission will settle the issue of whether UW Health can legally recognize the nurses’ union. However, while both sides agreed to let the state agency decide the case, the agreement allows either side to take the case to court, which UW Health says is often needed for a decision.
At Tuesday’s meeting, SEIU indicated that UW Health could begin registering nurses immediately and that UW Health administrators would accept nurses’ right to organize and participate in union-related activities. Despite not agreeing to recognize the union and extend its collective bargaining power, union supporters say health system managers have agreed to discuss nurses’ concerns over what the SEU calls the “union management process.”
Throughout the controversy, organizers say the nursing staff has been dealing with staff shortages, fatigue and burnout for years, issues exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They argue that unionization can help them win better working conditions and improve the quality of patient care.
“This historic agreement confirms that we have a strong union voice on the job,” said nurse Mary Jorgensen. “I’m excited about the opportunity ahead of us and have every confidence in our ability to work together in new and stronger ways.”
According to SEIU, management and nurses seeking to organize have pledged to build a “relationship based on mutual respect and courtesy” and UW Health administrators have agreed to work with nurses to create new disciplinary rules that include a “peer support” process.
UW Health released its own list of details from the new arrangement Monday afternoon. When the five-point, bulleted list twice states that the organizers have agreed not to strike, the dispute over whether a union can be recognized is fully resolved. During the WERC process, the nurses not only agreed not to walk off the job, but also pledged to continue with any legal action that may be taken, UW Health said.
The health system noted that the list was met with union representatives during the process, but said the meetings were non-binding and meant to “openly share information.”
None of the key points listed by either side seem to directly mitigate the issues raised by nurses to form a union, other than agreeing to discuss the issue. A union spokeswoman confirmed that the recent agreement does not affect those items, and that the agreement focuses on representation issues, and confirmed that UW Health has agreed to meet with nurses’ representatives.
Any decision by WERC is expected to take months. That timeline could be extended longer if the case winds up in the courts, though UW Health said both sides could appeal directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court if a jury agrees to hear the case.
The two sides won’t say if they have reached another agreement to reach an agreement on compensation, benefits, scheduling issues and more.
When it comes to recognizing any union, UW Health’s hands are tied by a then-controversial 2011 law that limited the collective bargaining power of public employees in Wisconsin. The health system said its internal counsel ruled that recognizing the union violated Rule 10, and the Wisconsin Legislature and Legislative Office supported the conclusion. According to UW Health, the case would need to be settled in court if organizers want their union to be recognized.
While the Legislature’s finding confirmed that UW Health is not required to recognize a union for collective bargaining purposes, it did leave the door open to voluntary recognition for organizers. Attorney General Josh Kaul went even further in his suggestion that UW Health could voluntarily recognize them, as union supporters pointed out.
The multi-day walkout had been looming since August 25, when hundreds of nurses voted loudly. Approve the action. A spokeswoman for the union declined to say how many of the 2,600 nurses voted to join the union. The union did not say how many would walk out during the strike.
In total, UW Health said it employs 3,400 general nurses.
Copyright 2022 WMTV. all rights reserved.