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Nurses at Wichita’s St. Joseph hospital vote to unionize

Nurses at St. Joseph hospital voted to unionize with the National Nurses United.
Daniel Caudill
/
KMUW
Nurses at St. Joseph hospital voted to unionize with the National Nurses United.

Nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph hospital voted 179-108 in favor of unionizing with the National Nurses United on Wednesday.

The number of Wichita nurses represented by a union continues to rise.

Nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph hospital voted 179-108 in favor of unionizing with the National Nurses United on Wednesday. The union says the bargaining unit includes more than 350 nurses.

This comes as the union is negotiating a contract for more than 650 nurses at St. Francis. A majority of those nurses voted to unionize in November.

Nurses at both hospitals say they are organizing in order to bargain for equitable pay, safer working conditions and adequate staffing levels.

In a release, union president Deborah Burger, a registered nurse, welcomed St. Joseph nurses to the union.

“Your determination inspires us, and we look forward to working with you to achieve better conditions for nurses and patients at St. Joseph and across the country,” she said in the statement.

In a statement, Ascension Via Christi says it is “disappointed” in the outcome of the vote.

“We strongly believe we can be most effective working collaboratively without union representation,” the statement reads. “We respect the voting process and are committed to ensuring it is followed during the vote certification period.”

The nurses will now elect a team to represent them in negotiations for their first contract with Ascension. That process includes surveying the nurses about key bargaining points.

National Nurses United has more than 225,000 members. Overall, about 20% of registered nurses in the U.S. are represented by a union.

The Kansas State Nurses Association says there are more than 50,000 registered nurses in the state.

Daniel Caudill reports on Kansas state government for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. He was a general assignment reporter for KMUW and a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.
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