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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a union?

A union is an organized team of workers who address issues in their workplace. A union is not controlled by the employer. Unionizing helps employees have more power and influence on decisions that affect them. Unions make decisions democratically and union members all have a say in what the union does.

Why do we need a union?

We care about our patients and our community. Good working conditions for employees lead to better care for patients. We are the frontline workers and need our input to be valued. We have raised concerns through official channels without meaningful results. Individually our concerns can be ignored, but together we can bring attention to issues and fight for change.

Are we allowed to form a union?

Yes. The right to unionize is protected by the U.S. Constitution and Utah law.

University policy (Employee Relations and Organizations 5-100 03/02/2021) states that every employee has the right to join, or not join, a labor union. It also states that administrators and supervisors may not penalize or threaten an employee for joining or not joining a union.

Public employees in Utah do not have collective bargaining rights, and Utah System of Higher Education policy prohibits the U from recognizing collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is when union workers negotiate a legally binding contract with an employer.

Even without collective bargaining, unions are still powerful. Unions without collective bargaining rights are called open unions (or pre-majority, solidarity unions). Other open unions have made positive changes in their workplaces including wage increases, safer staffing, and provided mutual aid and support to coworkers.

Who can join?

An open or wall-to-wall union means every non-managerial worker can join, regardless of job title! EVS, Transporters, HCAs, MAs, Providers, Nurses, PT, OT, SLP, RT, EMT, Lab, Pharmacy, Nutrition, Schedulers, Radiology Techs, Valet, Patient Services and more! Full-time,part-time, prn, retired, and even former employees can join. Everyone’s voice is important.

Do I have to join the union?

No. We want to make sure everyone is represented and the more union members we have the stronger our union is. But joining is not mandatory. People can join or leave the union at any time.

Do we have to go on strike?

No. Striking is only considered as a last resort, usually when conditions are unsafe or management is not addressing serious concerns. Before striking, union members vote whether or not to strike. Many steps, including strategic escalation, take place before striking to give healthcare systems the opportunity to protect patient safety.

Why is the union collecting dues?

Dues show support for the union. The more dues paying members, the more it shows our employer how serious we are. The money from dues go to things like lobbying, legal services, organizing resources, trainings, and media. Union members vote on how dues are spent. Recommended dues are based on income, and union membership is accessible to everyone who wants to join. Utah Health Workers United is a registered non-profit, and union by-laws ensure financial accountability. All money goes to operating expenses and organizing.

Who is in charge of our union?

We are! University of Utah Health employees who have joined the union serve on committees and vote on decisions. As more and more employees join, we will elect key membership positions. We have affiliated with CWA, a union that represents many workers in the public healthcare field and has decades of experience with open unions and university health systems.

How will the union make positive change?

We are building a union that is inclusive and democratic, where everyone has the opportunity to share their concerns and ideas. We make change by rallying community support, engaging the media, getting involved in legislation, and using collective action to ensure our employer hears our voices. We are here to listen to your concerns and support you so you do not feel alone. We are a resource to help you understand your rights as a health worker.

How can I learn more?

Learn more at our Resources Page