SEIU wins recognition by 2,300 Michigan health care workers
Neal Bisno via X/Twitter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. —The Service Employees’ Michigan affiliate has won card-check recognition among 2,335 University of Michigan Medicine healthcare system workers, and they’re aiming, their website says, to add 2,000 more.

The March 18 victory among patient care techs, phlebotomists and phlebotomist specialists, unit clerks and hosts, patient service assistants, associates, and senior staffers lets them join 283 Michigan Medicine registered respiratory therapists and techs who previously unionized last July.

“For months, 2,500 healthcare workers have been fighting for their union,” Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry tweeted. “Today, they declared VICTORY and officially joined together with @seiuhcm! Join me in cheering for these trailblazers reshaping medicine! #UnionsForAll”

As with many other cases, the coronavirus pandemic led the non-union workers at the university’s hospital system, which is currently 80% unionized, to go union. That’s because its unionized workers received benefits and job protections during the modern-day plague—and the non-union workers didn’t.

“During the pandemic, the university took away retirement benefits. Non-unionized workers did not receive a raise while our union colleagues did,” inpatient unit clerk Ern Mayhew told SEIU.

The university hospitals “also cut costs on smaller things that affect patients, like limiting the salt and pepper packets on food trays. A union would be our voice to fight for better pay, and benefits, and preserve the quality care our patients deserve.”

“As a patient service associate, we play a vital part in our patient’s recovery. We make sure patients have a positive first interaction with the University of Michigan health system. I grew up in a union family in the auto industry and I saw the benefits and protections it provided them,” Willie Griggs, of Mott Women and Children’s Hospital, told SEIU Michigan.

“A union at the University of Michigan gives us a voice to express our concerns and be heard in the workplace.” Respiratory therapists and techs at Mott, who were among those who went union last July, are currently bargaining their first contract, as are those two groups at the University of Michigan Hospital.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s next target will be more than 2,000 Michigan Medicine call center reps, administrative assistants, associates, seniors and specialists, financial counselors, medical billing staff, and other patient service workers, the union said.

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Press Associates
Press Associates

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.