Madison area Lawmakers support UW Health Nurses at LaborFest

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – UW Health Nurses spent Labor Day hosting a press conference at LaborFest, featuring several area lawmakers throwing their support behind the nurses as they continue to push for union recognition.

Nurses for the health system voted at the end of August to go on strike in September unless collective bargaining was held to meet staffing concerns from some of UW Health’s nurses. Monday, nurses heard from area leaders, receiving support from several people as dates for the strike approach.

“We’re all in it to win it; I’m on your side, I will show up to that picket line, let me know what we can all do to help,” said Democratic Representative for Assembly District 79, Dianne Hesselbein. “Dane County will continue to stand with workers.”

Hesselbein pointed to a 2012 vote, saying Dane County voted 70% in favor of collective bargaining, using the vote as an example of the support the county shows for workers. UW Health nurses at the event say union recognition is necessary to address staffing concerns, improve work conditions and ensure the quality of care for patients. Democratic U.S. Representative Mark Pocan says the voice the nurses are asking for is one every worker should have.

“There is no question that when workers have a better voice in the workplace, you will have better outcomes no matter what the job is,” said Pocan. “Respect your workers and recognize this union.”

UW Health released a statement in response to the press conference, saying, “The planned work stoppage set for September 13th to September 16th for a group of nurses remains disappointing,” before directing back to the previous statement released at the end of August.

Nurses voted back in August to move forward with a strike, giving UW Health 10 days of advanced warning last week. The strike is planned for September 13th to September 16th.

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