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Planned Parenthood workers to hold union election in 5 states

By staff |
May 28, 2022
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St. Paul, MN - On May 26 at 9:45 a.m., more than 420 Planned Parenthood staff across the five-state North Central States Region of Planned Parenthood filed union cards with the NLRB signed by a majority of their coworkers seeking a union election to become members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa.

The election filing includes all non-management employees throughout Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. Many of the workers provide direct care including abortion services, and others work in education, outreach and office services, and other types of work. The workers requested voluntary recognition from Planned Parenthood management, which Planned Parenthood has since stated they will not do. Because Planned Parenthood declined to voluntarily recognize, the workers will go forward with a union election.

At 10 a.m., May 26, some of the workers from the organizing committee on the union drive announced their election filing publicly through a press conference on Zoom, streamed live in the union’s social media. As Planned Parenthood and abortion rights face serious challenges in times ahead, the workers felt like now more than ever, they need a legally binding voice in decisions to better meet the challenges ahead and protect themselves. They also pointed to serious pay disparities between workers performing the same work and a lack of an ability to know what others are being paid for their same jobs.

Sage Shemroske, a health center associate at the Uptown Minneapolis location of Planned Parenthood, told Fight Back!, “I am excited to go forward and win our election and show the boss that they don’t dictate our lives,” and went on to say, “I want to see my union work as a tool we have to feel less exploited under capitalism and not be alone in the struggles we face as workers.”

When asked what forming a union means to them, Shemroske stated, “Trust in your fellow workers to not feel isolated. When you are feeling exploited, you are not alone and not feeling too low and grief-laden to fight back,” and, “Yesterday I was talking to a coworker and asked her concerns. She asked what cons [to unionizing] were. I said, there are none. When you are working as a collective and making space for the needs and wants of your coworkers there is no downside.”

No date is set yet, but the workers are requesting a vote in early July as part of their election filing, which would be in keeping with the NLRB’s standard timelines.