Oakwood Union Update

Oakwood Union Contract Ratified

Congratulations! The tentative agreement the SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin @Oakwood bargaining committee negotiated was ratified today by union members at Oakwood. This was not easy as management began negotiations offering 0.5% wage increases. You had tremendous support from local allies and importantly from the faith community that stood with you. All of you signing that petition to the CEO mattered. Next summer, you will begin negotiations again — the almost 20 Oakwood employees that became members during the past couple weeks helps build your power for a better deal next time too. As previously announced, other provisions in the agreement are:

  • 3.5% pay increase over next 10 months, 2% immediately and 1.5% in January;
  • Bonus pay for extra shifts to employees on care units for next 6 months;
  • Flexible schedule options to be developed – bargaining unit members get first opportunity to volunteer for these shifts;
  • No health insurance takeaways;
  • Wage flexibility to improve hiring to help address the staffing crisis;
  • Defeated management proposed pay for performance scheme that has a history of discrimination toward minorities and women;
  • No loss in longevity pay that management took from employees not represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin;
  • Contract expires October 31, 2022. In late summer we will be back at the bargaining table with the opportunity for better wages.

Please talk with our bargaining team members if you have questions: Virgie Burton, UW; Kirsten McKee, PR; Dan Meyer, UW; Tammy Schutz, UW; Jeff Urshlitz, UW

It will take a little time to prepare, proof-read, sign and print new contracts. As soon as they are ready, they will be posted to and distributed.

Union Labor/Management meeting scheduled 3/18

Union members at Oakwood will meet together with Oakwood management on Thursday, 3/18 at 4pm to discuss workplace concerns and find solutions. The January meeting helped improve communications with supervisors in some departments and we advocated for improved reporting if working through breaks. Do you have concerns you think you want discussed with management? contact a bargaining team member, a union steward or contact Scott at 608-225-4291.

Steward/Worksite Leader Trainings Scheduled

Stewards are union members that help coworkers understand their contract, give help filing a grievance if the union contract is violated and help co-workers act together with power to make jobs better. In the past month, 2 Oakwood employees have said that they would like to become stewards. Would you be interested in learning to become a steward too? contact Scott at 608-225-4291.

The next steward training is scheduled 5:30pm-7:30pm Wednesday, 3/24. Click HERE for a 2021 trainings schedule.

Share this message with co-workers that didn’t receive it. Get Connected to SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin here, complete this form:

To become a member of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, Sign-up here: Everyone is Stronger Together!

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SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin


New Union Contract

Make Your Voice Heard

University Woods
in person Vote
Wednesday, March 10 6:30am-5:30pm

Tabor Conference Room

Or Virtually:

Prairie Ridge
in person Vote
Thursday, March 11 6:30am-5:30pm

Oak Canyon Conference Room

Or Virtually:

To review tentative agreements virtually using ZOOM before casting a confidential secret electronic ballot using the on-line vote tool ELECTION BUDDY, please visit between 6:30am – 5:30pm on Wednesday, 3/10 or Thursday, 3/11.


Come at any time during the above times that fits your schedule including breaks/lunch, before/after your shift — stay as long as you are able.

Copies of the Tentative Agreement will be available for review. Bargaining Team members will be present to answer questions.

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Send the union bargaining team back to the bargaining table



Attend When: 6-7pm Wednesday, March 3rd
Attend Where: Garner Park Parking Lot
Off Mineral Point Rd, 333 S Rosa Rd, Madison, WI 53705
As requested, Oakwood MGMT signed our union contract extension, Saturday, 2/27!

Union contract negotiations continue Thursday, March 4th and Friday, March 5th. If you are interested in observing negotiations via zoom (phone or video), please call/text Scott at 608-225-4291.

Tell the bargaining team to keep up the good work: Virgie Burton, UW; Kirsten McKee, PR; Dan Meyer, UW; Tammy Schutz, UW; Jeff Urschlitz, UW

Sign the petition calling for an Oakwood Healthcare Heroes Wage package for all — Sign/Circulate Support Petition:

Please share this message with co-workers that didn’t receive it. Get Connected to SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin here, complete this form:

To become a member of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, Sign-up here: Everyone is Stronger Together!

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Meriter Nurses Contract Platform



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Between The (Front) Lines, a zine written by the SEIU HCWI member political organizers (MPOs)

This holiday season in a year unlike any before it, we recognize that healthcare workers are still in the thick of this crisis, without adequate protection or support.  We know most of you are feeling the same stress, frustration, and fatigue as we are.  And so, we wanted to share a special project that is giving us hope: Between The (Front) Lines, a zine written by the SEIU HCWI member political organizers (MPOs).


We wrote this zine to capture our experience and our successes as MPOs, as we trained and organized to engage and turn out healthcare workers this election, and to build political and worker power in the long term.

Taking stock of this year, we must not only honor those we have lost and the sacrifices so many of us have made, but also, the ways we have stood with and for each other.

This zine is dedicated to everyone fighting on the front lines. We hope these writings (and art and poetry) bring you a sense of hope, connection, and a little light to brighten the darkness.

In solidarity,

MPOs Femi Agbongbon, CNA and PCW in Milwaukee

And Lisa Gordon, CNA at a nursing home in Monroe

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2021 Together For New Oakwood Contract

We are stronger as one voice speaking with Oakwood management. Together as SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, we talk about and advocate for fair pay, good benefits, safety and great jobs. The contract we reached with Oakwood management a few years ago expires early next year.

We are starting preparations for a new agreement about our wages, benefits and working conditions at Oakwood. Nominate who you think will best represent you and your co-workers to the bargaining team. Nominations must be received by 5pm on Thursday, October 15th. Bargaining team elections are October 20th and will be held in a virtual meeting to be announced.

Nominate yourself to be on the bargaining team.

Our bargaining team needs your help — join the contract action team to help keep co-workers together to amplify our voices.

How do you think your job could be improved? Are you satisfied with how residents receive care? Your voice matters in our effort. We are more successful with you. You should complete this survey about your job, how you are paid and what could be improved.

Oakwood employees have already started talking about changes and improvements they’d like to make to their jobs. Share your ideas too!

If you have not received e-mail or gotten text messages, Stay connected to SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin HERE. Share this message with your co-workers!

Become an SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin Member or help a coworker become a member HERE.

Oakwood employees have worked hard to raise the standard for good jobs as long term care workers and have the power together to make jobs safer and even better with you part of the effort.

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WI Primary Election is Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Please remind those you love that when they go to vote, to be sure to wear a mask!

Are you voting on your way to work (polls open at 7am)? Are you voting after work (polls close at 8pm)?

Voting is important and these candidates have pledged their support for healthcare workers, including for the Healthcare Heroes Act — The SEIU Wisconsin State Council endorsed the following candidates running in the August 11th Democratic primaries for state legislature:

If you have questions about how to vote, where to vote, your voter registration or about who is on the ballot, please visit:

These candidates above have pledged their support for policies to address the deep inequalities and injustices that have long existed in our economy and our society. Living wages and a seat at the table for workers through our unions. Healthcare for all. Dignity, rights, and respect on the job.

Beyond their support for our governing agenda, these candidates have committed to working with us to draft legislation, build campaigns inside the Capitol and in our communities, lobby their colleagues in government, and help advance the cause beyond saying they will vote with us.

That kind of leadership is how we win policies to transform our jobs, our neighborhoods, our economy, and our society — leaders who stick up for the working class, no matter our race, immigration status, or what kind of job we do.

Beyond candidates in these districts above, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin stands with our Wisconsin AFL-CIO endorsements available here:

These political leaders have our backs — so now we need to have theirs.

In solidarity,
Brenda Frary
SEIU Wisconsin State Council President

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Statement from SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin in Support of Governor Evers’ Mask Mandate

2020 Letterhead logo

For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2020
Contact: Amy Lebowitz,
Rachel Hogan,

Statement from SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin in Support of Governor Evers’ Mask Mandate

WISCONSIN– Today, following Governor Tony Evers’ announcement that he would pass a statewide ordinance to require masks in public, healthcare workers applauded the move as a critical step to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.

Healthcare workers and members of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, issued the following statements: 

“Since this pandemic began, healthcare workers have been organizing and pushing for elected leaders to do their part to stand with us on the front lines. We thank Governor Evers for hearing the call of healthcare workers and joining with us to pass common sense solutions.  This mask ordinance shows that the Governor honors the sacrifices that nurses, hospital workers, nursing home workers, and first responders have made, risking our own health and that of our families. We will continue to do all we can to protect our patients and the public during this pandemic. It helps knowing that Governor Evers is on our side to do whatever it takes.”

-Ramon Argandona, Madison hospital worker and President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin

“As a nurse who cares deeply about the safety of my patients and community, I feel so relieved to hear about Gov. Evers’ order. I feel safer going into my job knowing that we have a consistent statewide approach. Without a doubt, this will help protect our patients and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed. We know that wearing masks in public will reduce the spread of the virus. With cases and hospitalizations increasing, this is a big step forward to protect public safety and combat COVID-19.” –Allison Sorg, registered nurse at a Madison hospital and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin member

“This is absolutely necessary. We’ve seen how COVID-19 has devastated the Black community in Milwaukee and across the country. By requiring that everyone in our state wears a mask in public, Gov. Evers lets us know he is committed to curbing inequities laid bare by the virus and protecting public health for all Wisconsinites.” – Gertrude Murray, CNA in Milwaukee and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin member

#SEIUHCWI #ProtectAllWorkers #StrongerTogether
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Gundersen sues its own workers when they can’t pay medical bills

In 2018, Gundersen Health System had more than $1.1 billion in revenue, paid its CEO over $1 million, and spent $231,000 on political lobbying.

At the same time, Gundersen was also suing dozens of its own workers for medical debts, asking the courts for permission to garnish $75,000 in wages from 31 of its employees, many of whom were among the health system’s lowest paid workers.

The union, along with Citizen Action Wisconsin, has organized a rally at Poage Park, La Crosse, on Sunday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m., to highlight the issue of medical debt and its impact on the community.

The cases were among 326 Gundersen took to court in La Crosse County alone in 2018 to recoup $721,000 in medical debt, in many instances for amounts totaling less than $1,000. In one case, Gundersen sued for a medical debt of just $30. All the numbers come from public court records.

Now, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, the union that represents Certified Nursing Assistants, laundry, cafeteria, janitorial, and other employees at Gundersen facilities, is calling on the hospital system to stop suing its own workers and provide them with decent, affordable health insurance.

“Medical debt affects our whole community but, due to the stigma around it, it is rarely discussed,” said Amy Dummer, of SEIU. “This silence allows hospitals like Gundersen to continue to take community members to collections and garnish their own employees’ wages with no accountability. We are ending the silence now.”

Dummer said SEIU is also calling on Gundersen, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit, to forgive existing debt and to stop suing both its own employees and community members in general for medical debt.

In 2018, which is the most recent year for which Gundersen’s financial records are publicly available, the nonprofit reported a surplus of $117 million for Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, the organization’s hospital in La Crosse. The $75,000 Gundersen garnished from its employees amounts to 0.06% of that surplus.

“The amount of money Gundersen collected in 2018 from medical debt and from garnishing its own employees’ wages is a miniscule percentage of its budget surplus that year,” Dummer said.

Of the 326 cases Gundersen took to court for medical debt in 2018 in La Crosse County, 177 had wages garnished, totaling just under $550,000, according to court records.

Gundersen is far from alone among health care providers, which are often tax-exempt nonprofits, in regularly sending medical debt to collections and garnishing wages. The practice is common across the U.S. and medical debt bankrupts hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

No one should be sued over medical debt”

Ben Wilson, an organizer with Citizen Action Wisconsin, said that Citizen Action supported the introduction of Medicare for All as the best way to fix the nation’s health care system in the long term. In the meantime, he said it was time for providers like Gundersen to stop suing people for medical debt. Citizen Action of Wisconsin is helping to organize Sunday’s Stand Against Medical Debt rally with SEIU.

“We believe that no one should be sued over medical debt. Medical bankruptcy is a uniquely American problem and it is a stain on our country,” Wilson said. “On a personal level, as someone who has filed bankruptcy in part due to medical debt, I understand that we need to fight against health care providers who ruin people’s financial futures by suing over small dollar medical debt.”

Gundersen continued to sue La Crosse residents, including its own workers, throughout 2019 and well into 2020, often for debt amounts of below $10,000. While these may be relatively small sums for a billion dollar organization, they could be catastrophic for many of those being sued.

“Medical debt is not something people chose but more often the result of a catastrophic event or long-term illness,” Dummer said. “Fear of debt and potential negative effects on credit ratings can lead people to avoid medical treatment, putting them at higher risk for serious illness.”

The $75,000 garnished from the wages of Gundersen’s own employees in 2018 amounts to 7.1% of CEO Scott Rathgaber’s pay packet for that year. Rathgaber’s total compensation increased by 62.5% between 2015 and 2018, from $655,000 to $1.064 million, according to public records.

Dummer noted that those most at risk from being sued for medical debt are often the most marginalized members of society.

“Medical debt affects low-income workers and because of our country’s structural oppression, it disproportionately affects Black, Hmong, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Ho-Chunk and other Indigenous people in our community,” she said.

Gundersen officials did not respond to a request for comment on this story. We will update the story if they do provide a statement.

Nonprofit hospitals are required to report the amount of charitable care they provide, which in 2018 was about $2.9 million for Gundersen, or 0.3% of the hospital’s revenue for that year.

Gundersen sues its own workers when they can’t pay medical bills

By Eric Timmons. Email questions to


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Protect Health Care Workers, Patients and Communities

2020 4 9 Action for PPE

We are together as a union to ensure our employers keep our patients and ourselves safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your worksite leaders and staff rep have asked for the facility’s COVID-19 plans & policies, and will review them to make sure they’re adequate. As  union healthcare workers, we have the right to make demands if our employers aren’t doing enough for our safety and financial security during this crisis.

We will keep you updated on management’s response and schedule a meeting with them to discuss it. Your worksite leaders will work on a list of questions and demands for the meeting; talk to them if you have questions or ideas!

Please share this message with other members if they did not receive it. Your co-workers are encouraged to signup to receive messages HERE.

We will continue working to best protect patients, families, our communities and each other.

In Solidarity,

Ramon Argandona, President
SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin








Taking Action:

Helpful Covid-19 Resources:


Furloughed/Laid Off?

20200321 Protect All Workers

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