Registered nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis vote to unionize
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Registered nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kan. voted by 66 percent, 378 to 194, to join National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest and fastest-growing RN union. The secret ballot election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, on Nov. 9 and 10.
Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital is the largest hospital in Wichita and the first private-sector hospital to become unionized by registered nurses.
The union will represent more than 650 RNs at the hospital, which is owned by Ascension, one of the largest not-for-profit and Catholic hospital chains in the nation, with 143 hospitals and other health care facilities in 19 states.
“Nurses sought union affiliation so they can more effectively advocate for improved conditions in the workplace and better economic standards for their colleagues and their families. This, say nurses, is how to keep experienced RNs at the bedside and recruit nurses at a time of growing national concern about the willingness of RNs to work under morally distressing and injurious conditions,” reads a release from National Nurses United.
Kevin Strecker, senior vice president and market ministry executive for Ascension Kansas issued the following statement.
“We are disappointed that the Registered Nurses voted for union representation at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. We strongly believe we can be most effective working collaboratively without union representation. We respect the voting process and are committed to ensuring it is followed during the vote certification period,” Strecker said.
NNU said the nurses will next elect a team to represent them in negotiations for a first contract with Ascension. To prepare for negotiations they will survey the RNs about the key issues over which to bargain.
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