UVM Medical Center support staff successfully petition to hold a union election
Over 2,000 support staff could soon join the ranks of unionized employees at Vermont’s largest hospital. A group of workers at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington filed a petition to hold a union election with the National Labor Relations Board this week, after gathering enough signatures from staff who could make up the potential new bargaining unit.
Exactly which employees would be eligible to vote in a union election is not yet clear, but could include maintenance workers, certain technicians and licensed nursing assistants. The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals — which represents unionized nurses at the hospital — and UVM Medical Center are negotiating the terms of a potential election. If those negotiations are successful, the agreement would need approval from the NLRB.
Federal law requires employees to gather signatures from at least 30% of workers in a potential bargaining unit. Union leaders say a large majority of support staff signed on to the petition.
"We are excited that our support staff colleagues have organized, built a supermajority of support and are thrilled for them to Vote Yes in their election,” said VFNHP President Deb Snell in a written statement to Vermont Public. “Then our 2000+ colleagues will have the same right to bargain over wages, benefits and working conditions as nurses and techs currently do. When more front line workers are at the table our patients and community are better served.”
“We respect the right of our employees to decide whether they want to join a union, and are working with the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and the National Labor Relations Board to determine next steps,” said UVMMC spokesperson Annie Mackin in a statement. “We will continue our work to ensure access and service for our patients, families and communities.”
If their election is successful, support staff would join over 2,000 other unionized employees at UVMMC, which is one of the state’s largest employers. VFNHP already represents all registered nurses, licensed practicing nurses and some technical professionals at the hospital. Other hospital employees have also voted to unionize in the past few years. Imaging technologists ratified a contract agreement in Oct. 2021, and resident physicians voted in favor of forming a union in April.