Union election would cover hundreds of frontline healthcare workers in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska
SAINT PAUL – Frontline healthcare workers with Planned Parenthood North Central States, who work in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, announced Thursday that they have signed cards showing majority support for unionization and that they formally filed for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. The news was announced at a virtual press conference where workers shared what brought them to this point and why they are excited to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa.
One of the workers speaking Thursday morning was Ashley Schmidt, a Training and Development Specialist serving Nebraska and western Iowa:
“I am thrilled to announce that this morning we have filed for our union election with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa with a majority support from our colleagues throughout the affiliate.This is a huge first step that we are so excited to be taking to help make Planned Parenthood an even better space for our patients and for those of us doing this critical lifesaving work,” said Schmidt. “As we move forward into what will be a challenging time, having this union will ensure that all of our voices are heard and that we are doing everything possible to provide the expert care our patients deserve while supporting the front-line heroes, especially in states where we know increased restrictions, bans and attacks, are coming.”
The group consists of over 400 front line workers who do around 100 different jobs at 28 locations across the five states. Workers provide abortion care, cancer screenings, birth control, family planning, sexual and reproductive health education, political and community organizing, and much more across the five states.
Sadie Brewer, who works as a Registered Nurse at the Vandalia Street Clinic in Saint Paul, shared why she is part of the push to form a union of Planned Parenthood workers:
“Every day, my coworkers and I provide the safe, quality reproductive care that our communities need and deserve. As everyone is aware, our right to provide this care is constantly under attack. What we need most at this critical time is as much protection as we can get – and a union will give us just that. Unfortunately I've seen too many of these people move on after their ideas and concerns went unheard by executives time and time again,” said Brewer. “Planned Parenthood needs a union to give its front line workers the voice we so desperately need and the power to make real improvements to our working conditions. I spend my days listening to my patients and caring for them; I need to know my employer will do the same for me. That is why we must form our union and make this change together.”
Thursday also saw Mimi Arabalo, a Bilingual Health Educator based out of Omaha shared what many are facing in this work:
“I have worn many hats within Planned Parenthood North Central States over the last 5 years, and in all of them I have felt a strong divide between front line workers and our leadership. Despite these inequities, I still very much care about Planned Parenthood’s mission and this institution. We all do, which is why we want this union- So we can be stronger together,” said Arabalo. “We are advocating for ourselves as front line workers, for our patients, and for our organization as whole with this union. As always, we stand with Planned Parenthood. I hope Planned Parenthood will also stand with us.”
April Clark, a Senior Training & Development Specialist RN for 8 Planned Parenthood clinics around Des Moines and Eastern Iowa for over 10 years, shared why a majority of PPNCS staff are supporting this push:
“As an organization, I know that we can do better. Caretakers often cannot voice issues on the job in a way that leads to any meaningful change. We trudge on until we’re burnt out, and then we leave. I have seen this happen over and over again,” said Clark. “Unionizing is a way to make sure that PPNCS is taking care of our staff so we can make sure that our people have fair and just wages, safe and adequate staffing ratios and equal access to benefits. I’ve seen outstanding care for our patients over the last decade. Just imagine the standard of care we can provide when our front line staff are treated with the same compassion and respect that we give to our patients.”
The group filed for an election Thursday morning at the Minnesota NLRB office. The group has requested PPNCS management voluntarily recognize the union since they have majority support, but if that doesn’t happen the NLRB will hold an election in the coming weeks.