UW Board of Directors votes to not recognize proposed nurses union

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The UW Board of Directors has decided to not recognize a proposed nurses union Thursday, much to the disappointment of the nearly 150 community members who came out to advocate on behalf of the nurses.

During the Board of Directors' vote Thursday (Source: WMTV)

The UW Board of Directors announced it is choosing to work directly with its employees to work toward solutions.

Earlier on Thursday, labor groups, lawmakers and faith and activist groups gave speeches during a public input session for about 20 minutes.

Before that in a press conference, many of the speakers explained why the nurses want an outside advocate. They say it's because of the constant struggle with a decreasing workforce and long hours.

“From working grueling hours, to being understaffed and severely overloaded our nurses are often faced with burdens that are unjust and unsafe,” Rep. Melissa Sargent said.

“When they tell us that their working conditions are jeopardizing patient care, we have no choice but to listen and to respond,” said Rabbi Bonni Margolis, who’s with the Faith Coalition.

In a statement, the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority said that "there is opportunity for improvement in two-way communication between UWHCA employees and management, including Shared Governance for nurses... Specifically, [the Board] expects management to develop and implement a plan in collaboration with nurses and all other clinical and non-clinical staff to have a strong voice in issues that impact them."

The Board of Directors statement added that it expects management to report back to the Board regarding issues felt important by its workforce.

In a December 2019 conference, union supporters say most of the 2,000 nurses in the system approve forming a union.

This comes after former Gov. Scott Walker and his administration essentially eliminated collective bargaining for state workers - including those at UW hospitals - in 2011.