UW Health nurses plan to picket next week during health board meeting

UW Health sign

MADISON, Wis. — A group of nurses at UW Health hoping to be recognized as a union says they plan on picketing outside the next meeting of the UW Health Board next week.

The group of nurses announced Thursday they will hold what they are calling an “informational picket for safe staffing, quality care and a union” on February 24. The nurses plan to protest alongside their families and community and labor leaders.

“We’re holding this informational picket to let the UW Health Board and administration know we can’t wait a single minute longer, they must recognize our union immediately so we can work together to solve this growing crisis and protect patient safety,” UW Health emergency department nurse Mariah Clark said as part of the group’s statement. “They’ve called us essential heroes, but do not try to retain us or include us in meaningful decision-making around the issues that matter to us most.”

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The nurses say they have suffered from “extreme physical, mental and emotional exhaustion” as a result of the pandemic, causing many to leave the field altogether.

The group says 1,500 nurses recently signed cards demanding union recognition, but they say UW Health has yet to respond to the request.

News 3 Now has asked UW Health for a response to the latest planned protest, but was told a statement would not be available Thursday. In November, UW Health denied the use of anti-union tactics after being accused of doing so by two City of Madison alders.

UW Health has previously cited Act 10 as a reason why they cannot recognize the nurses’ union. Their previous contract with the union ended in 2014.