headers5.jpg
 
IMG_9056.jpg

SHARI SIGNER
RN, UW HEALTH

“I’m a dedicated and loyal employee of UW Hospital and know what a wonderful facility it can be. When I began working at UW 17 years ago, the patients and employees were the main focus. Staff and the administration worked as one to raise standards and meet specific patient-centered goals. When issues arose, nurses were able to voice our concerns through our union, directly to management without fear of retaliation, and we could reach resolutions jointly with them. When we had a union, management had to do more than just ‘listen’—we were able to get them to take action.

“I’m a dedicated and loyal employee of UW Hospital and know what a wonderful facility it can be. When I began working at UW 17 years ago, the patients and employees were the main focus.“

READ MORE
IMG_9056.jpg

“Even before COVID, nurses and healthcare workers at UW were in crisis. The pandemic showed us that no one is coming to save us—not the federal government, and not our administration. If we want to best protect ourselves and our patients, we must do it for ourselves, through union rights and negotiations.

 

“Ten years ago, the administration promised they would take care of us and that we didn’t need a union. Well, I have compiled a long list of major cuts since then that have negatively impacted nurses and public health. The staffing ratios of nurses to patients has worsened, continuing education has been dramatically cut, new nurse training hours were lowered and incentives to retain experienced nurses were eliminated. Our health insurance costs have increased and paid sick time has been reduced.

 

“The best way to make UW focused on patients and staff again is through having a strong, independent union voice.”

Shari Signer, RN, UW Health

Laura-Kasten,-RN.jpg

LAURA KASTEN
RN, UW HEALTH

“Compounding the trauma of the pandemic was a sense of almost total abandonment by those in power at the hospital, and in state and national government. That’s why nurses are demanding that UW Health recognize our union, so we can solve deep systemic problems exposed by COVID-19, and advocate effectively for ourselves, our patients and our community.

“Compounding the trauma of the pandemic was a sense of almost total abandonment by those in power at the hospital, and in state and national government.“

READ MORE
Laura-Kasten,-RN.jpg

“Before Wisconsin’s Act 10 passed a decade ago, nurses had a strong union and a solid contract. But when our contract expired, administrators used that anti-worker law as an excuse and refused to negotiate a new agreement. Since that time, executives have handed down a wide range of damaging policies without our input, including cuts to staffing levels, continuing education benefits and our health insurance.

 

“COVID-19 made it crystal clear that it’s an absolute imperative for nurses—those of us with the medical expertise who actually provide direct patient care—to have a real say in how that care is delivered. We must have a seat at the table with executives to negotiate around all the urgent issues that impact our work lives and our patients.”

Laura Kasten, RN, UW Health

 
Ian Todaro.jpg

IAN TODARO
RN, UW HEALTH

“Being an advocate is absolutely central to the mission of the nursing profession. My grandmother was a nurse, and I know she would be proud of us for carrying on this tradition of patient advocacy.

“My wife and I both chose to work at UW because it’s the top hospital in the region, and I want us to retain the very best staff and set the highest bar for excellence. But many of us are experiencing severe burnout from the pandemic, because even though we were putting our lives on the line every day, we did not feel protected and supported by the administration. 

“Being an advocate is absolutely central to the mission of the nursing profession. My grandmother was a nurse, and I know she would be proud of us for carrying on this tradition of patient advocacy.“

READ MORE

“When the pandemic began, we did not have proper protective equipment or clear communication from the administration, and had no way to address urgent problems around staffing, scheduling or safety protocols. These issues affect our patients and our hospital’s ability to provide the best possible care. We felt like the administration didn’t have our backs, and didn’t take our concerns into account.

 

“As nurses, we need a union voice to advocate for ourselves and our communities, because nobody else will. My message to the UW administration is, we promise to give our all, but in return we need you to recognize us and give us the tools necessary to be the best nurses. We should not have an adversarial relationship, but rather you should engage with us as equal partners so we can provide remarkable care.”

Ian Todaro, RN, UW Health

Ian Todaro.jpg
 
Chuck Linsenmeyer, RN at UW Health.10.21.jpg

CHUCK LINSENMEYER
RN, UW HEALTH

“I work in the cardiac catheterization lab, and have been a nurse for 31 years, 20 of which have been at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. For me, the most fundamental problem for all of us workers at UWHC has been the loss of our basic workplace rights following the expiration of our last union contracts. Fair grievance and disciplinary processes, with the right to a representative and a just cause standard, are essential for nurses to be empowered to stand up for patient safety without fear of reprisal. 

“Regaining basic workplace rights and reestablishing an environment where nurses can once again be fearless patient advocates are what motivate me to participate in our union.”

READ MORE
Chuck Linsenmeyer, RN at UW Health.10.21.jpg

“My primary commitment as a nurse is to my patients, and the push to maximize corporate profits should not compromise this relationship. The outstanding reputation of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, upon which the entire larger UW Health system is built, is a direct legacy of decades of organized labor that fostered top quality patient care.

 

“For example, our union contract established a formal process for addressing a Care Team Leader’s concerns about the safety and appropriateness of accepting a new patient to their unit if adequate staffing wasn’t available—a process that if necessary involved the Vice President of Patient Services and a Labor Management Committee. Now nurses have no clear process for raising these types of concerns. Regaining basic workplace rights and reestablishing an environment where nurses can once again be fearless patient advocates are what motivate me to participate in our union.”

Chuck Linsenmeyer, RN, UW Health

 
Mariah Clark, RN at Agard_Subeck Press Conference for a Union Voice at UW Health.SEIU HCWI

MARIAH CLARK
RN, UW HEALTH

“When I first started at UW 13 years ago, it was an incredible place to work. I used to enthusiastically recommend to friends that they come work here, because frontline employees were respected and valued. But not anymore. That’s why I’m actively building our union, because I want nurses to have a true voice at UW to make it once again the best place to work and receive care.

“When I first started at UW 13 years ago, it was an incredible place to work. I used to enthusiastically recommend to friends that they come work here, because frontline employees were respected and valued.“

READ MORE

“For years now, many of us have felt frustrated by the disregard for the voice of bedside nurses. Months before the pandemic, a strong majority of nurses signed up to form our union, and asked the UWHCA Board to voluntarily recognize us. 

 

“The pandemic only further exposed the severe systemic problems at our hospital. While my co-workers and I were in the hospital every day desperately doing everything in our power to save lives, too many of us experienced an almost complete lack of support from hospital executives and elected officials, particularly in D.C. They called us essential heroes, but did not include us in decision-making around staffing, patient safety or protective equipment. 

 

“Now, we’re struggling with high patient census numbers and dangerous coronavirus variants, and are facing a possible combined flu and COVID wave in the fall. We urgently need to have an independent voice through our union so we can work with management to address concerns like safe staffing, continuing education benefits, and fair and flexible scheduling. I want UW to once again lead by setting the highest standards, so the people of our entire state get the care they need and deserve.”

Mariah Clark, RN, UW Health

Mariah Clark, RN at Agard_Subeck Press Conference for a Union Voice at UW Health.SEIU HCWI
 
Tami Burns, RN at Agard_Subeck Press Conference for a Union Voice at UW Health.SEIU HCWI_b

TAMI BURNS
RN, UW HEALTH

“I went into nursing because I believe deeply in helping people. But the pandemic has shined a harsh light on grave problems in our healthcare system. Nurses at other employers have formed unions to work with management and address their concerns, and UW nurses must have the same independent voice.

“I went into nursing because I believe deeply in helping people. But the pandemic has shined a harsh light on grave problems in our healthcare system.“

READ MORE

“Because hospital administrators did not involve bedside nurses in any meaningful way when making decisions during the pandemic, we were left in the dark about the constantly changing directives. The administration would continuously implement inefficient policies around staffing, training, personal protective equipment and other areas that were counter to the health and safety of workers and the public. 

 

“Nurses at Meriter Hospital proved that through their union, they can negotiate directly with executives to solve urgent problems. That’s how healthcare should work. Nurses must be involved in every major decision that impacts our patients and staff. Otherwise, administrators roll out policies that simply don’t make sense at the bedside.

 

“For many years now, there has been a severe nursing shortage, and a constant revolving door as nurses leave the profession due to exhaustion and burnout. It is extremely dangerous not to respond to the nursing shortage. The best way to address this crisis—and ensure quality patient care—is by making sure we have a real, meaningful voice in our work through a union.”

Tami Burns, RN, UW Health

Tami Burns, RN at Agard_Subeck Press Conference for a Union Voice at UW Health.SEIU HCWI_b
 
Seoda Duffy, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.jpg

SEODA DUFFY
RN, UW HEALTH

“I’ve spent my whole career as a registered nurse at UW Health, first in the hospital and now in the internal medicine clinic. I became a nurse, and stayed with this profession, because we have a crucial role as advocates for patients, and as bridges to resources for both patients and their families. In the clinic, we have a philosophy of treating each patient as a whole person, and we work alongside social workers and mental health professionals to make sure they are getting all the types of care they need. 

“I became a nurse, and stayed with this profession, because we have a crucial role as advocates for patients, and as bridges to resources for both patients and their families. In the clinic, we have a philosophy of treating each patient as a whole person, and we work alongside social workers and mental health professionals to make sure they are getting all the types of care they need.“

“During the pandemic, we’ve been doing our part by ordering COVID tests for patients, and triaging patients with respiratory symptoms over the phone, helping determine the type of care they need. Over the last a year and a half, our workload has increased significantly. For nurses in the urgent care clinics and hospital, conditions have been even worse, as they’ve been expected to take on more and more duties with fewer and fewer nurses.”

 

“Without a union voice, staffing ratios have been steadily eroded. We no longer have the ability to stand up for ourselves and our patients against cuts and policy changes, and the administration hasn’t included bedside nurses in decision-making in any real way.

 

“There’s so much discontent now, and nurses are leaving both the hospital and the clinics. That’s why we need our union, so nurses can regain a strong, independent voice at UW Health. I’d love to see improved staffing levels, more flexible scheduling, and a fair disciplinary process with representation on the job. All these improvements would help us have better recruitment and retention of dedicated nurses, so UW Health can return to setting the highest standards for medical care in our state.”

Seoda Duffy, RN, UW Health

Seoda Duffy, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.jpg
READ MORE
 
Amanda Klinge, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.JPG

AMANDA KLINGE
RN, UW HEALTH

“I became a nurse because I love helping and supporting people in their toughest, most painful moments. It’s so gratifying to see their medical condition and quality of life improve. Or, if they’re at the end of their life, it’s equally fulfilling to make sure they have the most comfortable and peaceful experience possible. 

“But UW Health nurses struggle to provide the kind of personalized care that our patients deserve, because we’re just so understaffed. Understaffing has been a dire problem for years, but the pandemic has transformed this issue into a full-blown crisis. 

“I became a nurse because I love helping and supporting people in their toughest, most painful moments. It’s so gratifying to see their medical condition and quality of life improve. Or, if they’re at the end of their life, it’s equally fulfilling to make sure they have the most comfortable and peaceful experience possible.“

READ MORE

“For over a year and a half now, UW Health employees have been confronting this deadly virus every single day when we go into work. The unknown aspects of COVID are so scary. I’m constantly wracked with worry, wondering if I’m bringing the virus home to my young children or their grandparents.

 

“What’s made this experience worse is the very top-down approach that the UW Health administration has taken for running the hospital, which has become even more entrenched during COVID. They don’t take bedside nurses’ opinions seriously. For example, they don’t fully account for patient acuity, or level of illness, when setting staffing levels. It seems like they use business models to determine how to deploy resources in the hospital. But I have a message for the UW Health administration: We’re taking care of living, breathing people, not manufacturing products.

 

“When we’ve continuously raised concerns about unsafe staffing or other issues, the administration has said, ‘Thank you for bringing that to our attention’ and then they don’t get solved. That’s why we need an independent union voice, so that those of us at the bedside, not just in the boardroom, can speak out and have a strong role in decision-making about the quality of care for our patients.

 

“With a union, nurses will be able to elect representatives from our colleagues, and sit down to negotiate a contract which improves staffing levels; requires adequate personal protective equipment; expands paid time off so we can care for ourselves and our patients; invests in continuing education to advance our skills; and recruits and retains qualified nurses.

 

“There’s so much burnout right now, and nurses need to care for our mental and physical well-being so we can stay in this profession that we’re devoted to. We're putting our lives in jeopardy every day that we go into work, and in return we need to know we’re protected, supported and heard. I’m deeply proud of my job, my coworkers, and my wonderful managers directly above me, but I also want to be proud of my hospital. That’s what our efforts to form a union are all about. Being proud once again to say we work at UW Health, and being able to provide the very best care for our patients.”

Amanda Klinge, RN, UW Health

Amanda Klinge, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.JPG
 
Ashley Campbell, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.jpg

ASHLEY CAMPBELL
RN, UW HEALTH

“I went into nursing because both my parents were nurses—my dad spent his whole career at UW Health—and they told me that even on the worst days, they could leave work knowing they did something good in the world. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and positively impact people’s lives. 

“But during the pandemic, it’s been a struggle to do the most good for my patients in the oncology unit, because the UW Health administration is not listening to frontline nurses. With cancer patients, COVID is extremely dangerous because their immune systems are severely compromised. When we’ve raised concerns to the administration and presented the latest science about COVID safety, it’s fallen on deaf ears.

“I went into nursing because both my parents were nurses—my dad spent his whole career at UW Health—and they told me that even on the worst days, they could leave work knowing they did something good in the world. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and positively impact people’s lives. “

READ MORE

“For example, we’ve told management that there is ample evidence that COVID is spread through airborne droplets, and we need to wear N95 masks in order to protect our vulnerable patients. No matter how many times we’ve brought this up, management still insists that all we need are the less effective surgical masks, despite the elevated risk for cancer patients to have severe cases of COVID. 


“This is typical of how nurses—the ones actually providing direct patient care--are left completely out of the loop in decision-making, especially around safety. Then management sends us emails saying that we are having ‘staffing constraints’ which require us to care for more and more patients. Why? Because they’ve failed to remedy the understaffing crisis and adequately recruit and retain enough nurses. 


“I’ve seen so much suffering in the last year and a half among my patients and my colleagues, who are like family. I work with some of the kindest, most courageous, smartest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. To watch them go through this crisis, to watch the impact on their mental health, and to watch colleagues leave UW because of poor choices by the administration is just utterly heartbreaking. 


“I know from my dad that it didn’t used to be this way at UW. He was an active member of the union and told me about the very tangible, concrete ways they were able to protect nurses and patients, including safe staffing ratios, bans on mandatory overtime, and fairness in the workplace. He strongly believed that UW had the reputation for being a great place to work because nurses had a union. 


“In nursing school, we’re trained to advocate for our patients, which is a core part of our profession. Forming a union is about having the ability to advocate for both our patients and ourselves, and have a real say in how we can provide the safest, highest quality care. Nurses need to have some power and control over our work, our lives and our future, so we can transform this profession that we love into a wonderful, sustainable career that will allow us to stay at UW for decades.”

Ashley Campbell, RN, UW Health

Ashley Campbell, RN at UW Health.SEIU HCWI.8.21.jpg