UW Health leadership to keep current system despite nurses call for union

UW Health leadership to keep current system despite nurses call for union

Leadership from the University of Wisconsin Health system said it will stick with its current system to get feedback from employees following a call from nurses Thursday for the board to voluntarily acknowledge its union.

Dozens of nurses held a press conference to announce the demand, citing low staffing and inadequate patient-to-nurse ratios.

“Nurses are trained to monitor trends, and when we notice that things are trending in the wrong direction, we take action to improve them,” said Mariah Clark, an emergency department nurse who led the press conference.

#BREAKING Citing staffing levels and patient/nurse ratios, professional nurses in the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority (UWHCA) announced they have formed a union and demanded voluntary recognition from the UWHCA Board of Directors. pic.twitter.com/bfBCwZ2AQQ

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) December 19, 2019

She and other nurses said there are not enough nurses at the hospital to cover the number of patients they have, and their resources and education since Act 10 removed their union have gone down.

Shari Signer, a general float nurse, said she sees low morale from nurses at the hospital.

“Despite our morale, nurses are still nurses, and we’re doing what we do because we love it,” Signer said. “We’re still giving quality care to patients, so if you would ask the patients, they might not even know what’s actually happening because we try to hide the fact that we are working short and doing the best we can.”

A spokesperson for the hospital said the board has made up for losing collective bargaining with an employee advisory council, surveys and forums.

#UPDATE @UWHealth board won’t acknowledge support of union, saying it has successfully implemented systems to get employee feedback since Act 10 and “will continue to support our robust existing system of employee and nurse engagement.” #News3Now

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) December 19, 2019

“(University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority) has successfully implemented many processes to obtain direct employee feedback,” the board wrote in a statement. “UWHCA will continue to support our robust existing system of employee and nurse engagement.”

Signer and other nurses said the system in place now isn’t working.

“It’s become just very difficult to adequately do our jobs,” she said. “And adequately is not what nurses want to do. We want to be the best we can be. We want to do everything we can. We’re just being forced to work short all the time.”

Clark said she’s hopeful the board will accept the union still, and the nurses will begin meeting with board members in hopes to convince them.

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