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Wisconsin board: UW Health not required to recognize union

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A Wisconsin labor relations commission has ruled that the UW Health hospital system will not be required to recognize a nurses union or engage in collective bargaining negotiations.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in its Friday ruling found that UW Health was exempted from collective bargaining laws because the nurses are public employees under Act 10 — a 2011 law passed under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Both UW Health and the nurse's group described the ruling as an initial step in the nurse's effort to regain union recognition, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. UW Nurses United said in a statement that it will appeal the commission's decision in court, as well as petition the National Labor Relations Board.

UW Health, meanwhile, will petition the state Supreme Court for an opinion on whether it is legally required to recognize the employee union, or if it can do so voluntarily. The hospital system is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and employs 21,000 people at seven hospitals and more than 80 clinics.

The nurses had threatened to strike for three days in September, but Gov. Tony Evers had brokered an agreement for both organizations to petition the labor commission.

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