Citing concerns ranging from workplace protections to executive pay, a committee of dozens of nurses, CNAs, and other bedside care workers at Denver Health announced this week that they are forming a new union for the hospital's employees. Denver Health Workers United, an affiliate of CWA, will organize members from all job categories in the hospital and advocate for workers' rights, institutional change, and meaningful public investment to improve patient health outcomes.
"I started at DH as a volunteer and have spent my entire nursing career here. I'm joining the union because the COVID crisis has brought to light several issues that have existed for frontline staff and we need to do something about it," explained one nurse and leader with DHWU. "With a united voice we can advocate for ourselves and therein provide better care for our patients."
The announcement follows troubling revelations about soaring executive compensation and bonuses as nurses and other staff are asked to bear cuts in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Nurses and other critical members of the more than 7,000 staff were asked to take leave without pay and cut hours, while a handful of executives raked in bonuses. Meanwhile, some staff report not receiving appropriate protective equipment; in some alarming cases, staff have been allotted just one mask for an entire week.
"We have a vision of a democratic workplace that promotes dignity and equality for all Denver Health workers, from nurses to CNAs," one nurse shared. "We know that safer workplace conditions, and an environment where staff feel protected reporting concerns translate to better patient outcomes."
Newsroom staff at Gannett-owned papers in Florida and Delaware have faced resistance from the company since they decided to form unions at their workplaces. The company has refused to voluntarily recognize the unions – the Palm Beach News Guild, the Southwest Florida News Guild, and the Delaware News Guild – and the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed their representation elections.
Union representation is particularly critical right now, as workers face issues related to the pandemic including furloughs and the need for support to allow them to work from home or in the field.
Sign the NewsGuild-CWA's petition to tell Gannett leadership why they must support journalists' voices in the newsroom: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-gannett-to-protect-its-local-journalists.