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University of Wisconsin Health backs down as nurses threaten to strike for union recognition

By staff |
September 13, 2022
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Madison, WI – On September 12, a tentative agreement was reached between nurses at University of Wisconsin Health (UW Health) and administration over management recognition of their union, represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. Nurses at UW Health had lost their union after their contract expired in 2014 and the administration refused to bargain, citing Wisconsin's "Act 10" law. The effort for renewed recognition was restarted as of 2019.

Demands to recognize their union, which represents approximately 2400 Nurses in Madison, had been rejected up to now. Nurses there submitted a ten-day notice to strike over recognition as provided by law, and had been preparing through the weekend to begin on September 13. Nurses at UW Health, along with hospitals across the country, have suffered from long hours and staff shortages as they've stood on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provided the nurses’ union is recognized, it would constitute the largest recognition of a union in Wisconsin since Republican governor Scott Walker signed the Budget Repair Bill, commonly known as "Act 10", over ten years ago.  Since its passage, Act 10 has crippled the ability of public sector workers to legally organize and negotiate with their employers, making proposals over most wages and working conditions illegal, and forcing annual elections even to maintain union status.