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Form a Union

What is a union?

A union is nothing more than coworkers coming together to make improvements at work.

In a home care setting like Agrace, we can fight for the things we and our patients need by joining together to address issues collectively to demand better from management.

Forming a union is often the only way to protect against harmful changes to patient care, to keep the things we like about our jobs, and to fight against the things that lead to unsafe conditions and burnout – all issues that will become particularly important as Agrace hires expensive outside consultants and prepares plans for expansion.

Without a union, decisions that affect our lives are made for us, and we are expected to just accept whatever comes our way without anyone asking how we feel. With a union, we can have a direct say in how things go at work, from staffing, to scheduling, to pay and more.

What have union healthcare workers won in Wisconsin?

Last year at UnityPoint-Meriter hospital, unionized RNs won a 14% raise over two years, including a $1500 retention bonus, among other wins that secure safe staffing levels, benefits, and more. You can read the contract here:

Note: This pay scale is effective 5/27/24. Class 17 refers to newer nurses, and classes 23 and 26 are more experienced nurses that meet certain requirements.

At Meriter, starting on May 27, the hourly pay for a brand new nurse will be $41.36. RNs there negotiated a strong pay scale with yearly salary increases. Meriter RNs can see exactly how much their hourly wage is up to 34 years into their career there. They also recently won an additional $1.50/hour for time spent training new nurses.

Through collective bargaining, we can shape our workplace for the better. Our union amplifies our voice, and the contract we negotiate ensures that workplace improvements are legally enforced.

SEIU healthcare workers around the country enjoy:

What does Agrace’s “Union Free Philosophy” Mean?

CEO Lynne Sexten outlined Agrace’s “union free philosophy” in a recent email. Agrace administrators don’t want Agrace workers to have a union because it means administrators would have to give up absolute decision-making power over our working conditions, pay, and quality of care. They don’t want us to have a say in what is considered a safe patient load, or what a fair wage for the work we do looks like.

To prevent workers from building power, employers attempt to mislead workers about what our union is. When employees band together to improve working conditions, they call this union a “third party.” When workers begin collecting dues and build their collective resources and capital to make improvements, administrators who make over $700k a year accuse these workers of seeking to “make money” via their union. (Fact: no worker pays dues until after a contract with significant wage and benefit increases is ratified by a majority of members.) When employees work collectively to create real power in the workplace, they try to create feelings of futility by claiming that these efforts will never work, and complain that if employees form a union, they will reduce administrators’ “flexibility” to make changes (i.e. without having to consult their employees).

The truth is that when we unionize, administrators are required to sit down with us, as equals, to negotiate a contract which addresses everything we know we need to give the highest quality care we can.

Want to hear more?

If you want to know more about how we can join together to make Agrace a better place to work, please contact us here (all inquiries and conversations will be completely confidential):