UW Health can legally acknowledge a nurses’ union, according to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s legal opinion released June 2. Nurses at UW Health called for immediate recognition of a union upon the release.
The attorney general released the opinion on the request of Gov. Tony Evers for more clarity on the legality of the unionization request since the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority, or “the Authority,” is not mentioned in chapter 111 of the Wisconsin state statutes — the laws that govern unions.
The attorney general concluded the Peace Act is applicable to this case in that the nurses have a statutory right to bargain collectively.
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The UW Health nurses’ union organizing committee released a statement following the legal opinion, stating it dismisses all arguments UW Health and Clinic Authority (UWHCA) has used against the formation of a union.
“The strong majority of nurses have been calling for a union for over two and half years,” the committee’s statement said. “This entire time, UW Health’s central objection was the false assertion that they were legally prevented from recognizing us.”
The nurses’ union was dismantled in 2011 in reaction to Act 10 passed by former Gov. Scott Walker which made it difficult for unions to be recognized by their employers, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
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The nurses’ union organizing committee said the recognition of a union is urgent to provide better patient care.
“It is critical that UW Health recognizes our union now so we can advocate for our patients, our community, our families and ourselves and ensure safe, quality care for Wisconsin,” the committee’s statement said.