The agreement follows a meeting between UW Health workers and administration at Gov. Tony Evers’ private residence Monday.
UW Health workers have been fighting to regain union representation since former Gov. Scott Walker passed Act 10, which dissolved collective bargaining rights for many public employees in 2011.
UW Health’s union contract expired in 2014, UW nurse Shari Signer said at an SEIU rally earlier this month. Since then, she said working conditions and patient care have declined severely.
“I remember when our hospital put people before profits,” Signer said. “[Current working conditions are] not right for new nurses, it’s not right for experienced nurses and most importantly it’s not right for our patients.”
The current agreement will bring the issue to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, who will decide if UW Health bargaining rights are protected under the Peace Act, UW Health worker Mary Jorgensen said.
“Both parties have agreed to go through WERC and we hope to have an election by the end of the year,” Jorgensen said. “We’re quite sure that we are covered under the Wisconsin Peace Act and that WERC will straighten that out.”
UW Health workers will now be able to address the issues they face every day directly with the administration, Jorgensen said.
In a statement read at the rally, SEIU urged voters to reelect Gov. Evers and to elect Mandela Barnes as a Wisconsin senator in order to ensure the continued push for collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
“You are showing working people everywhere that it takes action to make change,” the statement said.
The agreement canceled the strike and prevents any more work stoppage until a decision is made on whether the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority is protected under the Peace Act, an email from UW Health Press Secretary Emily Kumlien said.
The issue could potentially reach the majority conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.