2013 – Year in Review

2013 Year In ReviewEvery victory, no matter how big or small, builds a path to power for all working people by creating momentum for a larger movement.

Thanks for all you’ve done to move us forward in 2013. Here a few of our highlights from the past year:

  • Faced with losing their independent voice on the job, the 5,000 union members of UW Hospitals & Clinics rallied together to create 5000 Strong. Throughout the year, they held actions to put public pressure on the hospital. Most recently, 108 union members and community allies rallied outside UW Hospital and Clinics before turning in 1,198 petitions to Donna and the Board requesting they formally recognize our right to have an independent voice on the job.
  • SEIU HCWI worked tirelessly to educate and promote others about the new provisions of the Affordable Care Act. With the help of community partners, we held a Health Fair Expo to allow individuals opportunities to sign up for the healthcare exchanges. Thanks to the ACA, millions of uninsured, hardworking Americans who currently don’t get affordable insurance through their employers or can’t afford it on their own will finally have an opportunity to quality for affordable healthcare insurance.
  • Recognizing that healthcare workers all across Wisconsin are all facing the same issues, SEIU Healthcare launched the first-ever Wisconsin Quality Care Lobby Day. We know it is not enough to win rights one bargaining table at a time; we need to create real change. Hundreds of healthcare providers lobbied their legislators to support new legislation to address critical problems including collective bargaining rights, safe staffing levels, mandatory overtime practices, and workplace violence.
  • After nine months of negotiations, the Meriter RNs won a fair contract that did not compromise quality care. Throughout the process, the nurses remained united and committed, standing strong for their patients and themselves.
  • The CNAa at EastCastle and the LPNs at Golden Living Colonial Manor Nursing Home voted “Union Yes!” to join together in SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. Together, they are uniting for a strong voice in the workplace. They recognize that together we can work towards better conditions for all healthcare workers through safer staffing, better pay, improved scheduling, and input into the decisions that affect the quality of care we provide.
  • Income inequality has become a major problem for our country. SEIU Healthcare participated in nationwide days of actions to raise the wage, as we stood beside our brothers and sisters at fast food restaurants working for a living wage and union representation.
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Latest News from UWHCA: Union Advocate

The Union Advocate is member-produced publication for and by our members at UW Hospitals & Clinics.

Click here to download a PDF version of the newsletter.

uw What’s Happening at UWHCA:


The UNION ADVOCATE is looking for articles. Please share your experiences at UW Hospital and Clinics with your co-workers. Write to the union office on 4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 300 Madison, WI 53705 or email




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Delivered 1,198 signed petitions

On December 4th, 108 union members and community allies rallied outside UW Hospital and Clinics before turning in 1,198 petitions to Donna and the Board requesting they formally recognize our right to have an independent voice on thejob. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed.

The December 11th issue of the Capital Times printed an editorial in support from Michael Schuler, senior administrator of the First Unitarian Society. Additionally, staff writer Jack Craver covered our action.

We’re gaining momentum and the public is watching!





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Over the years, UWHC employees worked tirelessly to improve working conditions and quality care. Through our efforts, achieved through union bargaining, we achieved many successes like improving staffing and banning mandatory overtime. These efforts did not go unnoticed, and UWHC was awarded with Magnet status. These provisions led to UWHC’s Magnet designation; the conditions didn’t come from our Magnet status.

The award was, and remains, a trophy for the UWHC Board to display as evidence of its credibility, more important to administration than to the average nurse who appreciates and helped cause the pt centered and nurse empowering conditions.

We’ve seen nurses approach management with ideas for improvements that would benefit pt and staff, but UWHC management too often rebuffs these for flimsy reasons. The general attitude of management has seemed that they listen to our collective voice because they have to. They haven’t treated empowered care providers as partners, but as adversaries. In the absence of a union contract, nurses serving on committees to affect pt care will likely find their participation even more frustrating.

We could soon lose our independent voice at the table through our union contract and our contract provisions that helped UWHCA gain the acclaimed “Magnet Status”. (more…)

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Support Living Wage Ordinance in Milwaukee!

Next week, the Milwaukee County Board is holding a special hearing to decide whether or not to pass a living wage ordinance.

By enacting a living wage law, our county supervisors will guarantee that workers paid with public money earn enough to get by, and with them the board can lift thousands of Milwaukee residents out of poverty – but only if there’s enough public support. A MAKE OR BREAK hearing on the living wage is set for Monday at 9AM.

Living Wage Hearing
Milwaukee County Finance Committee
9AM, Monday, December 16
Courthouse, 2nd floor, 901 N 9th St

We need you there to make sure this bill gets through. Corporate interests are already lining up to fight back. Let’s make sure they hear the truth from working families.

Today, over one-third of Milwaukee’s workers are stuck with poverty wages. It doesn’t have to be this way and the county board has the power to change it.

Monday’s hearing will decide whether or not we move forward. Don’t let corporations have the loudest voice. Only by packing the room can we guarantee that supervisors have the support they need.

RSVP for the MAKE OR BREAK hearing today – the future of thousands of families depends on us taking action!

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Fasting for Families: Wisconsin Edition

On Wednesday, faith, community, labor, and immigrant activists will partake in a 24 hour fast in solidarity with the national movement to enact commonsense immigration reform. 

Fast for FamiliesThis year, we have come the closest ever to achieving real immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. In June, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill (S.744). Now, the House of Representatives has chance to complete the dream for 11 million aspiring Americans by addressing the moral crisis that is our broken immigration system.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the House continues to delay a vote on the one issue that holds strong bipartisan support and is backed by a breadth of communities and groups across the country.

Every day the House leadership stalls on a vote for immigration reform, families and communities suffer the impact of deportations, deaths on the border, exploitation at work and the fear of living in the shadows with no path to citizenship.

By fasting, we hope to follow the examples of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to touch the compassion and sensibilities of our elected leaders to address the moral crisis of an immigration system that fails to comport with our national values, our creeds and belief in justice.

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Remembering Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader who spent 27 years in prison, dedicated his life to fighting for, in his own words, a “free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

The SEIU family joins communities the world over in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, a revolutionary leader who led with courage and grace. Mr. Mandela’s decades-long campaign to end apartheid shows that meaningful change might not happen overnight, but it can happen.

HCWI president Dian Palmer remarked, “We may have lost a hero, a man of who fought for decades who fought for justice and equality, but his legacy will not be forgotten. Mandela will forever inspire generations of activists to challenge the status quo demanding social and economic justice for all. As he famously said, “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” Like Mandela, we will continue to persevere, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Mandela’s history shows that there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we are persistent. As we remember Mandela, let’s work together for a world where everyone has a fair shot at a better future.”


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Join striking fast food workers Dec. 5th!

On August 29, fast food workers in Wisconsin made history by walking out on strike as part of the largest day of worker action in the history of the fast food industry. As part of the largest fast food strike in history, Wisconsinites led the way for higher wages and for the right to form their own union without interference or retaliation from their employers. Join them December 5, as Wisconsin takes to the streets in a day of worker action.

RSVP for the solidarity rally today!

Greedy bad actors like McDonald’s reap billions in profit by paying poverty wages that force the families of their workers on to public assistance. A report by UC Berkeley revealed that fast food companies low pay ends up costing our state $166 million every year -  and $7 billion nationally!  Enough is enough. It’s time to take action.

Stand up for all workers Dec. 5 by hitting the streets. There will be actions in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine.  RSVP to get information on the action closest to you.

Today, we can rally together to help raise the wage.

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Nurses Know the Facts: Navigators under Attack

Headshot of Dian Palmer

President Dian Palmer

As a nurse, and the chair of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare, I want to correct recent distortions about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act- specifically I want to address the misrepresentation that healthcare navigators are encouraging people to lie when signing up for healthcare.

Navigators play a critical role in the healthcare sign-up process and are individuals who local organization train to help consumers as they look for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms. These organizations and the individuals working through them are required to be unbiased and to receive extensive federal training.

Opponents of the healthcare law know how important navigators are to making this law a success, and they have thrown up roadblocks at every turn. Republican legislatures in at least 17 states have added to the requirements to slow the process of getting trained navigators on the ground–whether by fees, background checks, tests, extra training, certifications, threats of civil penalties, or delays.

I know that here in Wisconsin Governor Walker and the Legislature not only refused to set up a state based marketplace, but also adopted additional requirements for navigators beyond the federal training. Navigators in Wisconsin must undergo state training, and, once complete, be fingerprinted and then have a background check- the time required for these additional layers to the process delayed the launch for some of our navigators.

But we have turned the tide and pushed back against the most egregious of these roadblocks. So our opponents are launching undercover gotcha operations to attack the credibility of navigators. The Urban League in Dallas took swift action against one such incident by removing the individual from their navigator program.

The organizations and individuals who serve as navigators are committed to their communities, their patients and the law. I know in my community my colleagues at the AIDS Resource Center, Legal Action of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee Health Department South Side Clinic and dozens of other institutions serve as navigators.
These organizations have worked in our community for years and are a critical piece of making many aspects of healthcare work in Milwaukee. They would never jeopardize their patients, colleagues and professional reputation within the community by encouraging people to provide false information.

Opponents of the healthcare law have fought against our efforts on it every step of the way. They lobbied against the legislation in 2009; they filed lawsuits against the law in 2010. Now they continue to put up road blocks, looking for every opportunity to tear down the good work that is being done and to take away from the real story – which is that people are getting quality health coverage at an affordable cost.

It is beyond time to stop the political games around this law. This law is changing the healthcare system to make it possible for more Americans to access affordable, quality care so they can live better, healthier lives.

Please share this with others so that they, too, can know the facts.

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More and Better Training Not Discipline is the Key to Providing Quality Patient Care

“You have been scheduled for a Pre-disciplinary Investigatory (PDI) meeting at UWHC…Specifically, we will discuss an alleged….and your failure to follow the appropriate outlined procedures to prevent such errors.  Also, please note that during an employment investigation, employees are required to cooperate with the investigators and provide truthful responses and to refrain from any retaliation against any suspected witnesses.  Providing false information and/or evasive responses, and/or retaliating against others may independently lead to discipline.”

These sentences are copied from a formal letter that anybody on a PDI receives from administration.  You may have committed a specimen labeling error or a HIPAA violation (two  common performance accusations), or having been absent or tardy one time too many.  And anybody who has received such a notice knows how unsettling and threatening it feels; one experiences shame of having done something wrong, fear of losing your job.

In doing so, management seems to focus heavily on the breaking of established policies and procedures.  Nothing else is taken into account: past performances, or the overall performance in that given situation.  Administration seems to be interested mainly  in compliance rates.

At a recent class on Evidence Based Practice, the question was raised regarding the value of improvements based on sound reasoning and proven experience, when those changes are forced onto the staff in 5 minutes CBTs or hurried classes.  Signing one’s name at the end of the sessions, one is then held responsible for having integrated that information into one’s practice, no matter what. This concern seems to be shared at some level of management but, at this point, there are no plans to address it.

To make it clear, we are not questioning change or improvements in practice; we are questioning the methods of spreading new information and the communication of what is expected of these changes.

So, as we encourage all of us to pay close attention to changes and to implement them into our practice, we also urge you to raise your voices to ask for more serious ways to be informed and a method of enforcement that is less focused on discipline and more on spreading knowledge.


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