UW Health nurses vote to strike

On Aug. 24, hundreds of nurses at UW Health overwhelmingly voted (with 99% in support) to strike for safe, quality patient care and recognition of their union, according to a statement from the group. According to SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, UW nurses have been struggling with a dangerous crisis of understaffing, turnover, cuts, exhaustion, and burnout, which has been aggravated by the pandemic and puts patient care at risk. UW nurses once were members of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, but when their last union contract expired in 2014, executives used Wisconsin Act 10 to avoid negotiation of a new agreement and no longer recognized the union. SEIU is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of health care professionals, representing thousands of hospital, nursing home, home care, and social service employees.

The strike is set to begin at 7 a.m. Sept. 13 and end at 7 a.m. Sept. 16. However, nurses are hoping for dialogue with the responsibility landing on the UW Health Board and administration to recognize their union to avoid a strike. If nurses do strike, they will provide official notice to UW Health at least 10 days in advance so the administration can make preparations to ensure patient safety.