BY: ERIK GUNN – SEPTEMBER 4, 2021
…. Throughout the organizing campaign, participating nurses have focused on what they have said is inadequate staffing, scheduling decisions, safety and direct input in the decisions the health care system management makes about those subjects. Nurses who worked there when there was still union representation say that they had that sort of input then.
“Being part of a union is key to solving many of the long-standing problems we’re facing in our current health care system,” said Susan Nicol, a 26-year UW Health nurse, at the alders’ event.
“Without our union, we have been at-will employees that management can fire without just cause,” Nicol added. “That adds a large measure of fear for nurses who want to speak up about staffing levels, patient safety, fair treatment. When we have that fear about losing our jobs, it’s not just a loss for nurses and our patients — it’s a loss for UW Health overall, because it removes a crucial check and balance.”
During the union’s current campaign, UW Health representatives have frequently responded with statements promoting the health system’s “shared governance” structure and asserting that management maintains a collaborative relationship with employees.
Nurses who spoke Thursday disputed that message.
Without the union, “we have had no effective means of ensuring that our concerns are addressed,” said Ashley Campbell, an oncology nurse. The shared-governance system “is not an independent voice for us, and it is not able to hold management accountable for what we need.”
Campbell continued: “For us to truly share governance, we need an independent voice where nurses can meet by ourselves, conduct our own surveys, arrive at our own solutions and work with management as partners to implement them.”