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Open Letter to Ascension Wisconsin Employees to Organize

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Dear nurses, techs, and other frontline healthcare workers of Ascension Wisconsin: Remember, we are stronger together. You know what we’ve just survived. Imagine what we could accomplish if we get organized.

Without us, the frontline healthcare workers, Ascension would not be able to keep their doors open or care for patients. While we may be getting back online, the ongoing crisis across Ascension hospitals and clinics as a result of a cyberattack makes this crystal clear. We’re proving right now how we can unite to care for each other and our patients, even when administration leaves us in the dark. That’s why we need to come together in a union, every Ascension healthcare worker across Wisconsin, because we deserve better from our employer, our patients deserve better, and together, we are powerful. If you’re an Ascension healthcare worker, email our union at to start the process of building a union in your workplace.

Without us, there is no Ascension. There would be nobody to care for our communities. Ascension is the corporate entity that operates healthcare facilities like a private equity firm. We are the ones who provide compassionate, quality healthcare to the humans who need our care, even when we lack access to electronic medical records and adequate staffing. We have proven we can work together to support each other and care for our patients in the worst of times, through a pandemic and an unprecedented cyberattack. Imagine what we could do if we came together in one union, an organization of our own to demand from Ascension what we need to take care of our patients, our families, and ourselves.

Together, at St. Francis Hospital, the only Ascension Wisconsin facility with a union, we know we’re better off with a union and a legally binding contract that Ascension must follow, even though not everything is perfect. If Ascension pays someone incorrectly or schedules someone in an unfair way that violates our contract, we can file a grievance, meet with management, and get the problem corrected. We cite the staffing grids section of our contract to demand that management add another nurse or PCA to our schedule when they try to under-staff us. This has always been true here, but the advantages of being union are made more clear in this catastrophe.

Throughout this most recent crisis, we have been able to communicate across units and job titles. Management has not done enough to effectively communicate to those of us who are actually caring for patients, similar to how they operated in COVID. Our union, however, belongs to all of our members, and connects us to each other in a formal way, where our union leaders across departments work with each other and piece together a picture of the entire hospital. Without a union, we’d be relying on management assembled committees or informal communication threads. Are things perfect now? No. Are they better with a union? Absolutely. We can fight for what we need in our hospitals and are protected to advocate more publicly for what we need.

We invite each and every one of you who work for Ascension on the frontlines to join us in our union so that we can work together to make our jobs safer and more sustainable. Ascension is a behemoth, wealthy corporation whose scale and size makes our Wisconsin communities’ needs feel like an afterthought. It doesn’t matter if we work in Milwaukee, Racine, Appleton, Chilton, or Oshkosh, we know best how to care for our patients and ourselves. The only way to get what we need and stand up for our profession and our patients is by joining together in a union. Email us at to get in touch. We are stronger together.

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