Milwaukee: WFNHP Local 5000 leads a picket outside of Ascension CEO’s home
Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (WFNHP) Local 5000 held a rally and picket outside of the Milwaukee home of Bernie Sherry, the CEO of Ascension Wisconsin, one of his many houses. The January 4 action was in response to the abrupt announcement of the December 23 closure of St. Francis Hospital’s Labor and Delivery (L+D) Unit.
The staff losing their jobs as a result of this closure wants their union to back them in fighting to have their services reopen. WFNHP- a union of fighters- will do whatever it takes to reopen St. Francis’s L+D unit. This is not just standing up for the union jobs lost, but the fatal risk it will bring to the predominantly Latino, Chicano, immigrant and uninsured populations that this hospital mainly serves. Connie Smith, president of WFNHP Local 5000, said, “Women would have to travel to deliver at St. Mary’s or St. Joe’s, both 15-20 minutes away from St. Francis, and St. Mary’s is also having a staffing crisis.”
About 50 people attended the picket including community members, members of WFNHP, other unions, and grassroots organizations. Labor and community organizations joining in this effort to save the L+D unit have been at the heart of the struggle. Nadezhda Young, chief steward of the St. Francis Chapter, spoke to this when she said, “We’ve seen support like never before on this issue from staff, community members, and electeds, and we’re gonna use all of that to fight for more than just the St. Francis that Ascension has been stripping for parts. We’re gonna fight for the St. Francis its community needs.”
WFNHP, which represents the workers of the L+D Unit, made the message loud and clear that the union will not be letting the L+D unit close without a fight. As Tracey Schwerdtfeger, registered nurse and president of the Nurses Chapter at St. Francis Hospital, said, “This is what we can do as a fighting union. We fight for workers in the workplace and we can fight alongside our sisters and brothers in the community because we are stronger together.”
WFNHP calls on anyone and everyone who supports the cause to keep essential services open at St. Francis Hospital. Join the newly formed Coalition to Save St. Francis at their first meeting Tuesday, January 17 at 6 p.m. at WFNHP’s union hall. Follow their Facebook page for more details.