UVM Medical Center Support and Technical Employees Form Union, Overwhelmingly Vote in Favor of Collective Bargaining

On Friday, January 29th, 2023, support staff and technical employees at the University of Vermont Medical Center voted overwhelmingly to form a union and begin collective bargaining with hospital administration for improved wages and patient care.[0] The National Labor Relations Board certified the vote, which saw over 1,100 employees cast ballots in favor and approximately 180 against. This unionization effort is one of Vermont’s largest in recent years, and stands to substantially grow the ranks of organized labor in the state.[1]

UVM Medical Center President and COO Stephen Leffler released a statement in response to the vote, saying: “Throughout this process, The University of Vermont Medical Center has focused on ensuring all support and technical staff had an opportunity to have their voices heard. We believe the election administered on-site by the National Labor Relations Board met that goal, and expect to be in contact with the union soon to begin negotiating in good faith a collective bargaining agreement. We will continue our work to ensure access and service for our patients, families and communities.”[0]

The workers will be represented by AFT Vermont, who currently cover registered nurses and some technical staff at the hospital.[1] Jordan Bushway, a licensed nursing assistant, expressed why the unionization effort was necessary: “Nobody can afford to live here and work here and do the job that we do and do it safely and go home and say they took care of patients to the best of their ability, because we don't have the staffing to do that. So we’re going to fight for that.”[2]

AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Julie Bleyhl released a statement saying: “In spite of a significant anti-union pressure campaign by Science Museum of Minnesota management, these workers spoke decisively that they seek a voice in the workplace, fair pay for a day’s work, dignified paid leave policies, and more. These workers will have the full support of our union as they continue their momentum and fight for dignity and respect as they negotiate a first contract with the Science Museum of Minnesota that lifts everyone up.”[3]

The Science Museum of Minnesota released a statement saying: “The weeks leading up to the election involved a lot of reflection and important conversations with employees.[3] We look forward to continuing those conversations and moving forward together as an organization that values collaboration, equity and learning.[3]

0. “University of Vermont Medical Center support staff to unionize after vote” WPTZ, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.mynbc5.com/article/university-of-vermont-medical-center-support-staff-to-unionize-after-vote/42691059

1. “Support staff at UVM Medical Center vote to unionize” Vermont Public, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.vermontpublic.org/local-news/2023-01-27/support-staff-at-uvm-medical-center-vote-to-unionize

2. “Support staff at UVM Medical Center vote to unionize” WCAX, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.wcax.com/2023/01/27/support-staff-uvm-medical-center-vote-unionize

3. “Workers at Science Museum of Minnesota unionize with AFSCME Council 5” KSTP, 20 Jan. 2023, https://kstp.com/kstp-news/local-news/workers-at-science-museum-of-minnesota-unionize-with-afscme-council-5/