A majority of Planned Parenthood workers in Minnesota and Iowa voted to unionize and join the health care unit of the Service Employees International Union, official announced Thursday.
Organizing the union vote took 14 months. Voting by employees from Planned Parenthood North Central States offices in Minnesota and Iowa started three weeks ago.
Molly Gage, human resources vice president of the Planned Parenthood unit, said in a statement the nonprofit welcomes the SEIU Healthcare as the representative of bargaining unit employees.
"At a time when reproductive rights and the freedom of bodily autonomy are under intense attack, we will work with SEIU to support our employees, and to strengthen public policy, and improve access to abortion and all sexual and reproductive health care and education," Gage wrote.
Final election results were counted and reported Thursday by the National Labor Relations Board. Of the 429 employees eligible to vote, 238 voted to unionize; 26 voted no.
Going forward, nurses, aides, pharmacists, administrators and other employees of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota and Iowa will need to craft and bargain a labor contract. Key concerns among members are long hours, insufficient staff, excessive turnover and wages that lag behind neighboring hospitals and clinics.
During a news conference Thursday, several workers said Planned Parenthood froze their merit pay when the pandemic began.
Unionizing efforts intensified during the pandemic and after the Supreme Court nullified Roe v. Wade in June, they said.
The court decision, workers said, caused more work in Minnesota, because abortion will stay legal in the state. The nonprofit is already seeing an influx of patients from other states with newly restrictive "trigger-ban" laws.
"Our patient loads are impossible and our wages are unfair," said Sage Shemroske, a health center associate at Planned Parenthood's Uptown Minneapolis location. Increasingly, workers are needing to work longer hours and don't have people to cover them on days off.
Those conditions are why Ashley Schmidt, a Planned Parenthood training and development specialist for Nebraska and western Iowa, said employees were "so, so happy" with the vote to unionize. She expects swift contract deliberations and bargaining.
"We will start pushing right away to get the best contract possible," she said.