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Wisconsin Board: UW Health not required to recognize union

A Wisconsin labor relations commission has ruled that the UW Health hospital system will not be required to recognize a nurses union or engage in collective bargaining negotiations.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission found in its ruling Friday that UW Health is exempt from collective bargaining laws because the nurses are public employees under Act 10 — a 2011 law passed under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Both UW Health and the nurses’ group described the ruling as a first step in the nurse’s effort to regain union recognition, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. UW Nurses United said in a statement that it will appeal the commission’s decision in court, as well as petition the National Labor Relations Board.

UW Health, meanwhile, will ask the state Supreme Court for an opinion on whether it is legally required to recognize the employee union, or can do so voluntarily. The hospital system is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and employs 21,000 people at seven hospitals and more than 80 clinics.

The nurses threatened to strike for three days in September, but Governor Tony Evers brokered an agreement for both organizations to petition the labor commission.

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