The majority of frontline health care employees at Planned Parenthood North Central States decided to unionize last week, with 90 percent of votes cast in support of unionization.
“This win is a monumental turning point for us and other employees in reproductive health care.” Because we are the ones that manage these clinics,” said Sage Shemroske, a Minneapolis health care worker.
The newly unionized organization consists of around 435 individuals across Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, including nurses, pharmacists, administrative assistants, and other clinic personnel.
After a three-week voting session, the National Labor Relations Board counted the results on Thursday, with 238 employees voting in favor and 26 against.
The unionization attempt comes as Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion provider, contends with states throughout the country prohibiting abortion after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
This has caused an inflow of patients to areas where the operation is still legal, such as Minnesota and Nebraska. While abortion is currently legal in Iowa, the governor intends to reinstate the state’s six-week abortion limit, which was found unlawful prior to the Roe v. Wade decision. Additionally, Iowa has implemented a new regulation that requires patients to wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion.
April Clark, a senior training nurse at eight Planned Parenthood facilities in Iowa, said, “It’s pretty overwhelming.” “We essentially visit every patient twice. Therefore, it limits part of our potential.”
This month, a court in Ramsey County knocked down a similar limitation in Minnesota along with a number of other abortion restrictions.
CEO Sarah Stoesz, who headed the organization for 20 years and oversaw its growth into three additional states, is set to leave in the near future, ushering in a period of significant leadership transitions for the organization.
Recent months have seen a spike in unionization as employees, battered by the epidemic and surging prices, demand better salaries and stronger workplace representation. The National Labor Relations Board, which regulates private sector unions, reported a 56 percent increase in requests for union elections compared to the previous year.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa, which organized the Planned Parenthood employees, has been especially active over the last year, unionizing 1,700 workers across 14 organizations.
Local employees at Beacon Housing Collaborative, Jewish Community Action, and a variety of other organizations have unionized in recent years due to the aggressiveness of nonprofit labor organizers. Currently, DFL campaigns are often unionized.
Workers at Planned Parenthood North Central States have expressed a desire for the organization to recruit additional personnel and increase compensation in order to remain competitive with adjacent health care providers.
Clark, the trainer in Iowa, asserts that the clinics are perennially understaffed, and new workers often quit for higher-paying positions at surrounding hospitals.
“It always leads to burnout,” she said.