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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin workers vote to unionize

Unionization rooted in strengthening Planned Parenthood, union executive director says
Megan Edwards

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Workers voted to unionize on Feb. 8, according to the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals website. The ballot count revealed that 81% of workers voted to be represented by the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin voted to unionize due to recent challenges for healthcare professionals, including long work hours, according to WPR. The unionization will also give planned parenthood workers a say in the decision-making process, which could improve patient care.

Executive Director of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Jamie Lucas said the workers voted to unionize because of a deep love for the organization and its mission, not because of poor employers. The workers want to strengthen the organization by centering on the opinions and experiences of frontline healthcare workers, Lucas said.


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“The work is very important and it’s important that Planned Parenthood as an organization is as strong as it needs to be, especially after years of political attacks,” Lucas said.

There has been discussion surrounding those suffering from reduced work or loss of jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Wisconsin School for Workers assistant professor Ericka Wills said. But, there has been less discussion regarding healthcare workers forced to increase hours due to COVID-19.

In response to this lack of discussion, healthcare workers choosing to unionize are demanding safe staffing levels, adequate time between shifts to rest and a role in the decision-making process to advocate for better hours and working conditions, Wills said.

“When healthcare professionals are organizing, what they’re doing is creating a democratic structure within their own workplace to make sure that their voices and voices for the healthcare professionals of the patients are being heard in the decisions made by management,” Wills said.

Planned Parenthood patients can expect to see positive changes as a result of the vote to unionize, according to a press release from WFNHP. Healthcare workers need to have a say in day-to-day practices so they can improve patients’ experiences in the clinic, Lucas said.

By improving employment conditions for workers in the healthcare system, you are also ensuring improvement to patient care, Lucas said.

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“You don’t want a healthcare worker caring for you who’s afraid to pay their bills, or getting in trouble,” Lucas said. “You want somebody who’s fully present to your experience as a patient, and Planned Parenthood is really good at treating patients as humans and identifying their individual needs.”

Reproductive rights and the labor movement have been under political attacks for a long time, which has led to solidarity between the two movements, Lucas said. Unionization will strengthen the movement for reproductive rights by formalizing the goal of Planned Parenthood, which is to ensure that healthcare decisions belong to the individual, Lucas said.

The Wisconsin unionization vote follows a trend of healthcare workers organizing following the pandemic, especially at Planned Parenthood, Lucas said. WFNHP has been in contact with other healthcare workers who have unionized or are in the process of organizing a union.

“If workers see that, ‘hey, here’s a group who unionized who’s part of the same company that I am, who is able to achieve some of the things that we’re looking for in our workplace, they’ve been able to achieve a voice in their workplace …’” Wills said. “More workers who are part of Planned Parenthood may choose to unionize and that would create then other bargaining units who would have their marketing.”

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While unionization is a major move toward advocacy for healthcare workers, it is only a first step, Lucas said. WFNHP and Planned Parenthood are now preparing a bargaining contract to present to management, Lucas said.

The contract demands daily communication on topics that will directly impact workers, such as pay and processes in the industry, Lucas said. Planned Parenthood employers have been cooperative and collaborative through the unionization and bargaining process, according to Lucas.

“I think there’s an opportunity here to really come together to get something that will benefit the workers, the patients and the organization in the form of a collective bargaining agreement,” Lucas said.

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