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Workers at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee march on the boss, demand payment of overdue raises

By staff |
July 21, 2022
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Milwaukee hospital workers demand that the technical and service staff receive t
Milwaukee hospital workers demand that the technical and service staff receive their contractual raise. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Milwaukee, WI – On the afternoon of July 18, 18 workers at St. Francis Hospital represented by the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (WFNHP) Local 5000 followed the top hospital administrator to his office to demand that the technical and service staff receive their long-awaited contractual raise. 

Three months after ratification, there has still been no sight of a wage increase for the technical and service staff at Saint Francis. Nursing staff received their raise within the time agreed upon, yet there has been an unacceptable hold up for all other bargaining members at the hospital. This comes after management's other recent splitting activities, when they divided the two units at the beginning of contract negotiations and forced through staggered contract expirations for nurses and the tech/service workers.

Union leadership received no real explanation from management on the holdup on the raises, assuring the angry workers that they are “working as hard and fast as possible” on implementing the increases. Rather than waiting and seeing, union leadership called upon all members to show up to the labor-management meeting and get their answers there. Nurses, techs and service staff came together to demand that techs and service get paid immediately! 

After finding out last minute that the meeting was virtual, the group came together and marched into the nursing administration office to demand the meeting be had then and there. Regardless of the top administrator’s “open door policy”, he had nothing good to say, refused to listen, and proceeded to have his secretary call security on the assembled workers.

“It’s very predictable that despite everything they say about wanting to hear from their staff, when their staff actually speak up they call security,” said Nadezhda Young Binter, a behavioral health CNA and chief steward at Saint Francis. 

This didn’t stop the group from making their voices heard. Everyone proceeded to take over a conference room and hop on the labor-management call. After the labor relations director’s weak attempt to show sympathy and prevent the workers from expressing themselves, the workers bulldozed over her empty remarks and made their demands heard.

“You can’t say you understand our frustrations until you work the floor and live off my wage. It’s unacceptable it’s taking you so long. We need our money now!” said Kellie Lutz during the call. Lutz is also a CNA and the secretary of the Saint Francis WFNHP chapter. Many workers expressed similar frustrations and demonstrated their power against administration. 

Union leadership is working on next steps to advance the struggle and win workers their raises. This action comes on the heels of a successful effort to earn workers throughout the hospital their bonus pay, which many had been denied for nearly two months. Without the union to advocate for the workers and fight for their rights, there’s no telling how long the company would seek to withhold the pay of workers at Saint Francis.